A couple of weeks ago, we were at our church for an early rehearsal. Another child, almost the exact age as my son, was performing with the microphone. This is not an atypical scene for a preschooler. Often times, outgoing children like to put on a little ‘show’ for their admirers.
If the scene wasn’t all that unusual, why did it strike me so much? Because I could not imagine my son doing that. In that moment I had yet another glimpse into my son’s personality. For the last year I have been learning more and more about his personality and it has shaped how we parent him. Thankfully, he is so similar to his Daddy, that Brian is usually the most perceptive in helping me know how to parent his more timid, shy, non-outgoing self.
Not all children are Shirley Temples, or Olivias (from the Cosby Show). Some have dramatically quieter and more reserved personalities. It is okay if not every preschooler wants to perform and show off his latest accomplishments.
When Stefan was very young, he was terrified of climbing playgrounds. Thankfully, Brian who also had similar fears as a child warned me not to push it. We would give him the opportunity to climb, but we never forced him. He really was genuinely scared. Enough times of seeing them, enough times of watching other kids go up, enough times of going up with one of his parents, and eventually he ventured out on his own. You would never know that now, but it took a while. This is just one illustration of his more reserved personality.
These are some of his individual character traits that affect our parenting.
- In general, he is timid to try new things. We try to expose him to things multiple times until he is comfortable with trying it out.
- When we walk into a new situation he stands and observes first. Later, after he warms up a bit, he will venture out.
- While he loves playing with friends, it is better done in small doses.
- He likes to know what is coming ahead of time.
- While he will perform and be goofy for us, he rarely does for anyone else.
- He can sit and work on puzzles forever.
- He can get lost in his world of cars or Legos.
- He will talk our ears off about something he is excited about, but as soon as someone else comes in the room he will clam up.
- He is very sensitive to others, and has a keen awareness if others are sad or happy.
Why do I tell you all this about my son? Because as we navigate the parenting waters, we have come to realize just how much we have to adjust our parenting to individual personality.
Obviously, biblical truths cross all personality types. But when you get down to the details of life with a young child, you realize how unique each child is. God gave children certain temperaments and personalities. We should never try to change them. But we do need to realize that it has to be brought into consideration in how we parent.
As our children’s personalities develop, it is exciting to watch. I love seeing life through his more sensitive and curious personality. But it can be challenging. You realize very quickly that there is no one-size-fits-all formula for parenting. The beauty of it is that as you develop a relationship with your child, your own world expands. You begin to see the world through each of your children’s eyes with their individual personalities. And how vastly more interesting it is than if they all had identical temperaments and personalities.
In conjunction with this, I wanted to share this helpful article. It gives a very concise description of the introvert and extrovert child.
Do you find that you have to adjust your parenting to fit your child’s personality?