Professional Development

Workshops/How To Work With Families » Child Focus

Take a Look at Your Child's Personality

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(Take a Good Look)

As parents, each of us has success stories to tell about the children to who we open our homes.  Foster care is a positive and progressive step forward for many children!  Unfortunately, there are also plenty of problems that face our children and ourselves.  One effective way to accentuate the successes and decrease the number of problems is to build a helping relationship with our children based on understanding child development, child behavior, and how each child’s temperament and personality affect her growth and development.

Individual differences in personality play major roles in how parents and children get along with each other, and how families learn to adapt and cope with life situations.  It is significant that babies who are less demanding are often viewed by parents as “good” or “easy”, as a result, receive less attention and positive nurturing than the difficult infant, whose personality is more assertive, energetic, and demanding.

Parents, who take the time to analyze the temperamental characteristics of their own and their foster children, can avoid many pitfalls in parenting.  Here are some questions to ask yourself about each personality in your household.  Then, consider aspects of temperament when planning your daily routines and tasks.

What is the activity or energy level of each person?  High-energy people are good motivators for couch potatoes, and even very young energetic types are easy to praise and reward for being busy and helping.

How rhythmic is each person, in terms of his eating, sleeping, toileting, or personal habits?  Very regular people are upset easily by chaotic changes in routine and the order of a household.

How adaptable are your family members when confronting situations for the first time?  Children who have low adaptability thresholds need plenty of warning and advance notice before embarking on new experiences.

How intense and forceful is each person, regardless of age, when it comes to reactions.  For example, some of us cry furiously when we are upset, while others are quiet and self-contained about showing their reactions.  You can guess which personality type gets the most attention.

How much interaction or stimulation does each person in the family need for another person to get a response?  Some teenagers have trigger-fast responses, shooting from the hip and voicing their objections about everything, as loudly as possible.  Others appear to not hear, not see, and not care about anything!

How attentive or how distractible are family members?  Parents can cut down on a lot of bad behavior by assessing “attention spans”, and shortening up verbal directions, giving fewer orders and lectures, and making fewer rules to remember.  Give plenty of reminders, and praise children for remembering and doing things correctly.  Not everyone has the memory of an elephant, nor do most people listen very well.  We have effectively taught our children to look and watch, but not to hear and listen.

When parents know the specifics of personalities, they can arrange ways to let their children use the best parts of their personality to please others.  High-energy children love to make things.  Toddlers with short attention spans can do quick things that help out, like putting socks in a basket.  Moody distractible older children can read joke books to younger children, or help children do exercised or play outside.  So enjoy the inevitable wide variety of personalities who reside under your roof!  

Ask Dr. Susan