Understanding Your Child’s Natural Character Traits
Everyone assumes they know what is best for their child - because they claim to know their child better. But how true is that? Do you really know the natural character traits of your daughter or son because you are living under the same roof? Sadly, parents often try to tone down the natural character traits of their children. Some 3 to 6 year olds are hyperactive or very energetic and you are shouting around the house urging them to keep it down or asking them to get settled. But when doing so, you often tend to evoke other traits that don’t really come naturally to the child.
There are some parents who are always urging their kids to interact, socialize and talk more with other kids, even though they are actually very shy. So being an extrovert is a trait that is not really coming naturally to your 8 year old. But for the sake of social and moral obligations, you may be urging them to make new friends even though he/ she is not really comfortable.
As a result of this, what happens is that children tend to express traits that are actually the opposite of what they are. It could be them getting bold and very adventurous at times though they may be shy by nature and yet is implementing this behavior to please you. So here are some factors that influence the natural character traits of your child-
A child of this age group (3-10 year old) learns and develops habits by what he or she sees and hears around us. So it is important that while interacting at home, there is a healthy conversation where elders are respected and little ones are loved. A young child adopts the same behavior as his or her elder sibling. So it is important as a parent you ensure that siblings bond together and you too spend quality time with your children.
Education doesn’t just imply sending your child to the finest schools. It also involves how a parent is taking care of his/ her child - encouraging them when needed, motivating them to push harder and also help in building up their strengths. In this way the natural traits of a child come forth. Ensure that your child gets a holistic education and gets maximum exposure at this stage. Education is not only academics but much more than that.
Physical and Emotional Environment
The physical environment of the child is always in tandem with the emotional environment. Considering that till a particular age, a child is always thinking of home as his/ her complete environment. In fact, the idea is that you should provide the child with a physical environment where they are appreciated and encouraged. Again, though you should be nurturing here, you must give them space to explore their interest and passions. Not allowing them to thrive in an environment would be one of the many factors to impact the natural character traits of the child.
Traumas of Early Childhood
A neglected or abused child is likely to separate from his or her inner traits as comrade to those who aren’t. Factors here include punishment fear, abusive fear, etc. Often, this is a problem that adopted or step children face. You may notice a pattern of obsessive cleaning and organizing here in the fear that it would be a stem for fear. In such cases, parents should praise the behavior lightly but not encourage any similar obsession because inherent fear grows in such actions, which again impacts your child's natural character traits.
One can set a pattern in the child behavior based on
- How he/ she relates to other people,
- How he/ she deals with problems,
- How he/ she organizes thoughts and carries out tasks, and
- What interests and motivates him/ her.
- What good character traits does your child already possess and that make you proud of them as a parent
- What additional natural character traits are you hoping to inculcate in your child before they fly the nest?
- Do you actually indulge in celebrating a little victory when they acclimatize to a particular trait?
- When was the last time you beat yourself up for failing?
- In general, think of all the ways that you can help become explore their inherent natural traits.
Here are some natural character traits that all children tend to possess. You just have to identify them the right way. And if you think that something’s amiss, you can help them adapt to the same-
Humility and modesty is something that most children have on their own. It is when they see people around them boast of their achievements that they catch on to a similar attribute of arrogance. For instance, if you are overpraising your kid - STOP! Learn to appreciate but also encourage them to share this knowledge with others. For instance, if he is good at soccer ask him to coach his little sister.
For a child, the physical world around him/ her including parents is enough to sustain. Contentment is a common natural trait that all kids have, learning to be happy with they won. But as they grow, their demand for materialistic things tends to develop too. You can have very little and be happy as long as your family and peers are there with you. So don’t give the nod to any new toy they want. Help them bring out this inherent trait of being content with the little things they have in life. Remember ambition is different than over-ambition that leads to unhappiness.
Dependability and grit
This natural trait is all about ensuring that the child is able to do things assigned to him. Even around the house, when you ask them to do little chores like placing the mat or even helping you pick up the laundry, it reflects a sign of dependability. This comes straight from the parents when the child knows that mom and dad will be around when needed, no matter what. Similarly, grit comes with determination and you have to incorporate this trait into them. Helping them understand diligence at a younger age reflects a more positive attitude later in life.
Impatience is a natural tribute that most parents face on an everyday day bases. There’s a story about a gemologist who was trying to teach his son the trades of the game. So every day the father would give the son a little gem to hold in the hand for helping him understand the nuances of the trade. And finally after a while the son got tired of not doing anything. So he opened his palm and said that he was not learning anything and was tired of going through the same process everyday. As he opened his palm he looked at the gem and said that it wasn’t the same gem he was holding yesterday. The father replied “See you are already learning”. So what happens here is that patient is one of the natural traits that a child has, but seeing others around him losing it all the time, they pick up a negative attribute. So help them understand and develop patience with time.
Children often come across incidents in everyday life where you as a parent choose convenience over honesty. So you are too tired for a weekend party at your cousin and lie to them that you are not well or skip yoga class with a friend and claim that you hurt your back. And this behavior comes back to you when you see your child empty a bowl of veggies or cereals into the bin and tell you that they finished eating. So it is a matter of convenience that gives away to the honesty trait. And this is where you have to start couching them to be honest. Remember how when they were younger they would just speak out about anything - even mistakes. Then started the punishment phase. So fear of punishment stopped their honesty trait. And this is where the next natural trait - Courage - comes in.
Courage and honesty are traits that often go hand in hand. For kids, sometimes the fear of punishment puts aside these two traits. You should encourage your kids to speak the truth instead of being afraid of punishments. Why? Simply put this will help them bring out two natural traits together and help them evolve as better human beings.
Compassion is not restricted to and should not be restricted to just human beings. It also includes having a compassionate attitude towards animals, the environment and even other physical things. There was an incident where a little girl took out a few coins she had saved in her piggy bank to help an old beggar on the street. Why because she had seen her mother do the same. Similarly, a wounded bird being brought home for healing is a sign of compassion. Don’t shout or get angry at your kid here. Instead praise them for this compassionate attitude.
We cannot be winners all the time. It might rain on days when a ball game was expected and granny might not really heal completely. These are all little traits that kids have that help them emerge as more adaptable individuals. It is combined with the traits of accepting failure, being courageous and working hard towards striving better. As a parent, you should help your child work on this when you see them cry over a broken toy or not playing well at a particular sport. Encourage them to fix things here.
Self-discipline is something that a child picks up first from his/ her immediate family. So hone these skills around them. Say it is your work time so let them know how punctual you are or respect time. If you are losing your temper with them, explain that though you are angry, you are giving them a chance to recuperate from their mistakes.
Let Them Be Curious
Don’t do this, don’t touch that, etc. takes the curiosity trait out of any child. And after all it is curiosity that leads to building of great things. If you are constantly stopping your child from getting curios then you are putting a vital natural trait on hold that would help them experiment and innovate. Instead of starting negatively, explain why you are restricting them to get curious over a knife or an electric wire - Because they are dangerous. But if they want to explore other things that are safer, but you find it is messy - don’t stop them. Curiosity should be encouraged and backed with logic and reasoning.
Have you ever noticed your son or daughter being grateful for the little things that they have around them. Gratitude is a trait that children are naturally born with but sometimes this is suppressed as materialistic and selfish traits come in. This is where your role as a parent starts. Saying thank you is a small way to begin. Talk about how happy you are for your family and the little things god gives you. For example, if your child is wailing about how small her icecream is, show them a child or beggar on the road who doesn’t have access to these pleasures. Or if they complain about walking back home from school, talk about people who are on wheelchairs. This is how gratitude is constantly developed as a trait.
Pro-activeness and Endurance
Help your child to be proactive and get things done on his/ her own instead of fending for them every time. This is how they will learn and if you constantly keep popping into the picture, they can never get proactive and will just be more reliant on you. Similarly endurance is all about managing pressures of the competitive world. You want and should encourage them to do well and thus comes in endurance. Backed with a positive adaptability trait, this is a win-win situation for both you and your child.
The panic mode sets in whenever something happens out of the usual. It is a natural trait that we all have and something that should be battled with patience. So if they are howling over a broken toy or because their ice-cream fell, the first thing you should do is tell them to be calm and patient. Once they are calm then ask them to think of an actionable to fix the issue. Staying calm in aggressive situations is perhaps a trait that will be a savior for your child all of their lives.
Respect and Hope
Children always hope for positive things in life. A toddler may cry over an injury but within a few minutes they are running around again because they know that things will heal. And somewhere down the line parents forget this. Similarly respect is something that comes from parent. It is here that you have to be strict about a few things. Discipline comes with respect too.
Leadership and Team Player Traits
Is your child bossy and always telling others what to do. Well that could be a potential leader. But you have to make them understand that a leader is not always bossy. So the next time he is just giving instructions to his play date, ask him to get up and be a part of the group and work around. This team player and leadership attitude would help them become modest, without letting the leadership trait get negative.