Do you often wonder why your kids have very different characteristics even though they live under one roof? I do, and I ask myself what could have happened between carrying them in my womb and delivering them. Then I read about the different personalities and types of temperament and how I can make the necessary adjustments to my parenting style to match my kids’ personalities.
If you’re a parent of two or more kids (like me), you probably are astounded by how unique your kids seem. One may be bubbly and carefree, while the younger sibling is overly timid and sensitive. One is flexible to change, and another may require more time and space to cope. These kids were undoubtedly brought up by the same parents, born in the same beliefs, and living in the same home, but they each take life’s roads and challenges differently. How could this be? It could be temperament.
Definition and Background
Temperament is defined as a person’s various personalities and his or her responses to life events and occurrences. Researchers and psychologists suggest five different features when discussing temperament.
- Activity Level – the severity of activity done by an individual
- Emotional intensity – the level of emotions that an individual is capable of showing or presenting with
- Frustration tolerance – an individual’s capacity to tolerate stress or any kind of emotion or situation
- Reaction to change – how an individual responds to the changes around him
- Response to new people – how an individual reacts when he is around people he is not familiar with
Every individual is born with her or his distinct personalities and temperament. Temperament, on the other hand, is not a product of something that you were able to or not able to do. It is not also caused by the culture you were born in, although a child’s surrounding environment can affect how he sees himself and how he can adapt to life. Sufficient knowledge of temperament can assist parents in adjusting their approach to their children’s needs.
Making Adjustments To Your Parenting Style
Be more understanding. Your older daughter dilly-dallies throughout the day, mostly procrastinating. You, on the other hand, are making sure you are achieving your to-do list. You and your spouse love having new people in your home, but your daughter prefers to stay in her room, not even getting out once for introductions. Often, this is a gap between a parent’s personality and a child’s personality, resulting in conflicts. Be more understanding and patient with her and take a few steps back so you will gain insight into her responses. Rather than feeling frustrated, try to look for some compromise or solution. For instance, you might want to tell your child that someone is coming over to visit so that she will have time to fix herself and her composure. Tell her how to respond initially when someone comes over and encourage her to join in small group activities whenever possible.
Recognize your child’s personality. Observe your child’s usual behavioral patterns. Does she love talking to new people and learning new things, or does she require more time to prepare for social gatherings? Maybe she is somewhere halfway. Is she more sensitive than others, is she more expressive of her feelings, or is she quiet but deep? Think about where your child falls on a mental or physical chart that discusses different personality types. You can usually get this from The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning or CSEFEL.
Separate your own needs from theirs. One of the most common challenges in parenting is not mixing up your needs and personality approach from your children. You may think that your child requires a substantial amount of social interactions, for instance, but the truth is, it is you that desire it. Be clear on your parenting needs and approaches so you can maintain stable boundaries between you and your children. See them as separate individuals.
Support your child. In today’s culture, formal and quiet personalities are usually rewarded. So if you have a son or daughter who is lively, emotionally intense, and highly assertive, you’ve most probably heard relatives and significant others judge them. Knowing that temperament is not the same for anyone can help eliminate the pressure, enabling you to perceive your child’s personalities as strengths, not weaknesses. This gives you more leverage to defend your child against negative reactions and comments. It would be easier for you to say, “Yes, my daughter is carefree, independent, and knows precisely what she wants. And she’s also learning how to meet halfway.”
Temperament is not always a constant feature. Kids with, say, an introverted personality can learn how to become more friendly and social. Someone born with a quick temper can certainly be more patient and in control later in his life. As a parent, improve your knowledge and understanding of your children’s temperaments while trying not to assign labels on them that might cause them not to grow mentally, physically, and emotionally.