Author: Jeannie Fleming-Gifford
Newborns are seemingly perfect. They eat, they poop and they sleep (well, sometimes they sleep). Then comes toddlerhood and our little one's distinct personality starts to blossom (or explode:).
Do you know what your child's temperament is (def. "aspects of an individual's personality that is usually regarded as innate rather than learned - Wikipedia)?
Although there are many ways to classify temperaments, many will agree that most children will fit into one of the following categories:
- Easy/Flexible: These munchkins will often "go-with-the-flow," are often laid-back and mostly "happy-go-lucky" (of course, every toddler has their moments).
- Difficult/Feisty: Determined, with a mind of their own, their personalities may be strong.
- Slow-to-warm-up/Fearful: The quiet observer, this child may sit back and watch until they become quite comfortable in a new environment or with new individuals.
Do any of the above definitions seem to stick when it comes to defining your child's temperament?
Whether flexible, feisty or fearful, it is important to first recognize the unique temperament of your child. Next, respect it. Yes, we all may be thinking "I wish she or he was more…" but isn't that the case with each of us? We all have our own personalities and with each style come strengths.
Once you've identified your child's temperament, the next step is to learn how to survive and thrive with it.
Think about what motivates your child.
If they are feisty, you may find yourself needing to give them choices, to feel empowered, with each part of their life. Don't go head-to-head (meaning they say "no" and you say it louder). Work to find compromise when possible and allow your feisty child to use their strong head (and mind) to build self-esteem.
If they are easy-going, think about ways to help them make decisions and provide opportunities for them to lead. Support your child by talking with them about the day's plans and recognize when they may need more structure. You also may need to consider what makes your easy-going munchkin "tick," or what motivates them.
Fearful? Support and encourage them every step of the way. Think about ways to make them more comfortable when entering into new situations (i.e. a pre-visit to a classroom before a new experience such as taking a music class). Reading books and talking with your child will help them navigate uncharted territory.
Take a step back and think about where your child is. Think about who they are. Now that you are there, you're in the best position to support them in becoming everything they can be.