How Your Kids' Personalities Can Change Your Parenting

siblings in a pile

iStockphoto / Liderina

Parents of multiple children will tell you that no two children are alike. Even though the kids are raised in the same home with the same parents and the same rules, they approach life very differently. For instance, one child might be quiet, conscientious, and responsible while the other is a fun-loving risk-taker who likes to be the center of attention. Neither approach to life is wrong or better, they are just different. But these differences will impact your parenting.

You will quickly find that what works with one child might not be effective with the other. This reality can be frustrating in the early years, especially if you want a more predictable and structured approach to parenting. Unfortunately though, raising kids is anything but predictable. It is messy, complicated, and constantly evolving. But you will be successful if you embrace the fact that you have to change your parenting approaches—especially when it comes to your kids' personalities.

How to Adapt to Your Child's Personality

Just like adults, children have different personalities. They might be outgoing, even-tempered, or introverted. Likewise, one child's strengths may be another child's weaknesses. The key then for parents is to not only identify these differences but understand them and work to be in tune with them. Knowing how to parent each child in a way that is sensitive to and congruent with their personality is one of the best things a parent can do. Here are some tips on how you can adapt.

Become a Student of Your Child's Personality

To parent according to your child's personality, you really have to know who your child is. And, the best way to do that is to study your child. Think about how they interact with other people. Are they bold and talkative or do they hang back and observe? Or maybe your child falls somewhere in the middle.

You also need to think about what types of activities your child enjoys, their emotional intensity, their tolerance for frustrations, their energy level, and their reaction to change. All of these characteristics give you insight into your child's personality and temperament. And, if you pay attention to these characteristics, they will serve as guides for you as you parent.

Appreciate Who They Are

For parents, it can be tough when kids aren't wired exactly how they expected. For instance, maybe you dreamed of having a sports star, but your child prefers music and books. Or, maybe your child is nothing like you and you had been hoping for a child that shared your love for adventure.

On the flip side, suppose your child is exactly like you, faults and all, and you are constantly butting heads. Regardless of who your child is, it's important that you find the wonder and joy in who they were created to be. Let go of any preconceived ideas and learn to accept and appreciate the beauty of your child's personality.

Of course, no child is perfect and there will be days when their behaviors are trying, but always look for the wonder in their personality and love and appreciate what is special about them.

Learn to Be Empathetic

Sometimes, kids' personality traits can be frustrating. Perhaps your child dawdles and you are someone who likes to keep to a schedule. Or maybe you are a social butterfly but your child would prefer to be at home. There are going to be times when your personality and your child's personality are mismatched. What's more, these mismatches can lead to conflict.

For this reason, it's important to take a step back and learn how to view things from your child's perspective. This doesn't mean they get to rule the roost and determine how the family spends its time. But, it is important to be empathetic to the things that give your child peace and comfort. Look for solutions and compromises to head off potential conflicts.

For instance, if your child needs lots of time at home, try giving them plenty of advance notice about what you have coming up on the schedule and then compromise on how long you will be gone. This way, your child is giving in by attending the family function, but you are being sensitive to their need for downtime.

Tips for Different Personality Types

As children grow and develop, their personalities begin to shine through. Knowing how to adapt to your child's unique and evolving personality will not only make you a more successful parent, but it will also communicate to your child that you not only love and appreciate them, but you also get who they are as individuals.

Nothing speaks love more than being known on the deepest level. Here are some ways to parent some of the more common personality characteristics. Keep in mind, though, that personalities are complex and contain many characteristics. So while these tips provide some general guidelines, your child will be much more complex than what is presented here.

The Sensitive Child

Sensitive kids are caring and empathetic and often wear their hearts on their sleeves. They care deeply about the world around them and often get their feelings hurt easily. Sometimes they also are the silent type who is often asked by others to speak up. Sensitive kids need reassurance in order to safe and secure. Let them know that you are there for them and be careful with your comments. Everything you say will be taken to heart. Additionally, be sure you acknowledge their caring side. While it may be frustrating that your sensitive child cries so easily, it's also important to empower this side of them. So few people are gifted with a natural bent toward empathy and love for others.

The Determined Child

This child is determined, independent, and a natural-born leader. Born with a drive to learn and to get things done, this child can be a challenge at times. They want to do everything on their own—whether it is buttoning their coat or making their own sandwich, this child is fiercely independent. Sometimes, a determined child can appear demanding and stubborn, but if you focus on giving them as much freedom to do things as you can, you will both be happier. Be sure to encourage your determined child and praise their efforts even when they fail. And, don't be discouraged. Your determined child will likely turn out to be very successful in life.

The Fun-Loving Child

This bubbly, happy, and social child is often playful and funny. They enjoy being the center of attention and may interrupt you frequently. As a parent, it's important to recognize these characteristics as positive traits and find ways for them to channel their enthusiasm. This child wants to have fun, so get down on their level and clown around. And when it comes to discipline, use a light hand. This type of child wants a happy world. So, go slow when correcting them.

The Serious Child

Logical, independent, focused, and mature are the best ways to describe the serious child. In fact, people are often amazed at how mature these kids are for their age. They are usually confident, studious, and analytical. But, they also can struggle with perfectionism. The serious child likes to learn new things. They are the thinkers in the family. So, when it comes to parenting a serious child, take their thoughts and opinions seriously. Listen to what they have to say. And, if you disagree, do so in a constructive way. When it comes to interacting with a serious child, try to be logical. For instance, it will be much more effective if you explain why you want them to do something instead of just telling them to do it.

The High-Energy Child

If you have a high-energy child, you know that your child fairs better in situations that involve activity and stimulation. As a parent, you need to recognize that if your child is idle too long or does not receive enough stimulation, then they will create it on their own. Consequently, it is best to provide this type of child with lots of opportunities to be active and explore in structured and safe environments. They need outlets for their energy or they create chaos at home. High-energy kids often benefit from a full schedule of activities.

A Word From Verywell

Parenting your children with their personality in mind takes patience and persistence. Sometimes you will get it right and other times you won't. When those times happen, be gentle with yourself. Parenting is about learning and adapting and no one expects you to be perfect. As long as you are active, involved, respectful, and loving, your children will grow up to be healthy individuals who understand and appreciate who they are.

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