We are surrounded by many different personalities that we must have private as well as public relationships with everyday. Obviously, we cannot connect with all people on all levels enabling us to walk through life without any friction at all. There is always going to be a challenge when dealing with diverse behaviors. We have learned to find our way in being constructive, patient and progressive when it comes to interpersonal communication and rely on these skills to maintain copacetic relationships.
The developing personalities of children, however, is a different challenge. If you are a parent, family member or teacher it is no surprise that you will be confronted with not only the physical development but the mental development as well. Therefore, it is best to take a step back and assess the best approach when working with the mercurial personality changes of boys and girls from about age seven and through their teens.
The Beginning and Beyond
There are many different theories on developing personalities, how they are formed, and when they actually begin. Most agree that by about seven years old a child’s personality has pretty much set into place. Outside influences such as parental discipline, religion, culture, friends and even media all play a role before and somewhat after this age. Influence can continue through various stages of a child’s life well into a young adulthood. Because there is no one certain formula to help parents with how their child’s disposition will be molded and formed, there are specific tips that can be attempted to gently guide a child along in the hope that they will develop a healthy, well rounded personality (and attitude).
Individual and Social Play
Allowing your child to play alone as well as in a group is an excellent way to enable them to experience many levels of personality challenges that in turn will forge their own. It enhances imagination, individuality, conflict testing, role play, decision making, sharing, compassion and defensive skills.
Every child has unique qualities that, if encouraged, can become a major component of their permanent personality. Kirby Deater-Deckard, PhD professor of psychology at Virginia Polytech and author of Parenting Stress explains, “…healthy personality development is fostered by parenting that is sensitive and responsive to the individual strength and needs of the child.” Stifling your child’s creative tendencies, experimentation or expressiveness just may suppress an important ingredient that could be developing their future success in the social arena. Do not let your pre-disposed fears steer your child’s development and instead accept, as open-armed as possible, all that your child discovers and displays.
Do Not Title
Many parents have a tendency to give their children a title according to that child’s specific disposition. For example, if a little girl is slow to smile or comply she is often announced to others as ‘shy’ directly in front of her. Inevitably, if someone is told something enough they will soon believe or become exactly that. It is somewhat similar to cults or the military when they continually reinforce specific beliefs or rules for each person to absorb and display.
Adolescent hormonal changes are a big challenge for parents. By the time a parent feels that they have a good working relationship with their child, hormones come along and pull the rug out from under them. It is almost as if their now teenager has reverted to infantile, unreasonable decision making which can often lead to daily personality friction. One way to possibly avoid this scenario is by adhering to some of the aforementioned tips prior to teenage development. The stronger the foundation the easier it will be to build on. However, even if you follow all the advice and read every book it still may not be enough.
Elongating the emotional leash may be all you need to gain the respect and behavior you desire. This is a fine line though and should be carefully considered. If you feel that up to this point your child has successfully displayed core decision making capabilities such as basic manners, avoiding detrimental choices like vandalism, bullying, etc. as well as compassion for themselves and others, then there is a good chance that they will be able to handle themselves on their own. Spend as much quality time with them as possible and work hard to communicate even when receiving very little back. Keep your frustration and anger at bay while still implementing important rules such as curfew, chores and schoolwork. Most of all, try to remain on the same page with your partner so that you are both handling disputes in a similar manner.
Developing personalities are a somewhat silent challenge parent’s are rarely prepared for. Don’t be too worried if you see your child “trying on” different personalities based on what he’s seeing in the world around him. Following some of these simple tips along with seeking out professional advice and/or texts will ensure your child comes into his own in due time. Good luck!
About the Author: Ceete Sheekels is a full time medical billing and coding specialist who writes about her career at AboutMedicalBillingandCoding.org. She is a mother of 2 beautiful children – one toddler and one preteen – and has plenty of experience dealing with growing children and their changing personalities!