Personality vs. temperament: getting to know your 3 year old!
As children enter their preschool years, their personality and temperament starts to take shape and change. Read on to learn more.
As your child grows into the type of person they will one day be, every little quirk seems fascinating. What excites them? How do they relate to others? How do they respond to frustrations in life? A 3-year-old may be showing signs that you should notice.
Getting to know your child and helping them be the best person they can be is one of the truly rewarding privileges of a parent.
Understanding your child’s temperament helps you better support their growth and development. And it also moulds your parenting style and deepens your relationship.
Understanding the facets of your 3-year-old’s temperament
A child’s temperament is basically what “makes them tick.”
Though different from personality, the two are quite similar. Personality arises from temperament, which can be traced to a child’s innate self.
As your little one approaches the end of her toddler years, her personality starts to take shape.
You might see something of yourself or your spouse reflected in your 3-year-old’s behaviour. But you may also be surprised at the unique traits your budding preschooler exhibits.
A previous study found links between children’s behavioural styles at age three to their personality by the time they reach age 26.
So closely observing your 3-year-old can offer a glimpse of what she will be like as an adult.
The 9 facets of your 3-year-old’s temperament
Let’s take a closer look at the nine characteristics of temperament in children, according to research led by professors Stella Chess and Alexander Thomas of the New York University School of Medicine.
This involves your little one’s level of energy, enthusiasm, and general motor activity.
Approach or withdrawal
This is a part of temperament that involves the way a child reacts to anything new or unfamiliar.
This part of temperament is more physical: it involves their sleep cycles, appetite, waste elimination and other bodily functions.
Basically, this is how a child responds to any change or transition in life.
This is a child’s ability to concentrate, or how easily they can lose focus.
Also referred to as sensory threshold, this is how much stimulation is needed to get a response from a child.
Simply put, this is how much kids express their emotions in response to different situations.
This is a child’s general disposition. Is she often bubbly, serious, or aloof?
This is how well a child responds to obstacles and setbacks.
All nine of these characteristics can be present in your little one. It is only the level of intensity that varies.
Though based on biology, personality and temperament can change over time.
Your child’s ever-developing personality is influenced by a variety of factors – home, school, social environments and parenting styles and methods.
Remember: these personality types are not set in stone.
Although their personality is evolving, kids generally fall under three categories. Which personality type is your child?
The “easy” child
This child is not fussy. Their sleeping and eating cycles are on point. They easily adapt to change and generally exhibit a good disposition.
They value consistency. Something that messes with their home routine may frazzle them a bit.
Just be there to guide them through these times and keep encouraging their positive attitude.
The “difficult” child
This type of child struggles with eating, sleeping, and waste elimination patterns.
They can be resistant to change. The “difficult” child is also easily frustrated, often throwing fits and tantrums.
Do not push them into social situations. Ease them into new experiences.
Take your cue from them when it comes to what they are prepared to experience.
Be extra patient when they throw tantrums. This child needs more understanding.
The “slow-to-warm-up” child
When exposed to anything new, this child will clam up. They can be resistant to change.
As for their eating, sleeping, and waste elimination habits, they are fairly regular.
Repeated exposure to new social situations will cause them to open up eventually.
But don’t worry. Your little one may fall into this category, but they will grow out of it one day.
What matters most is that, even though your methods might change to match their personality, your love and patience never wavers through each stage of your precious child’s development.