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Parenting and Personality

This is a guest post from Eleanor Formaggio from Parent with Potential in response to this question: How do you raise a child according to their personality?

Wow, what a great question, and to put this in words was incredibly difficult. I do know raising my children according to personality has made parenting more enjoyable and rewarding.  Parenting is more enjoyable because I parent according to their personality — which means less time wasted doing things that don’t work, and more rewarding because I can be creative in my parenting.  My philosophy is when a child’s emotional needs are met, they feel loved unconditionally so are less concerned about being disciplined or rewarded differently. 

How do I raise my children according to their personality?  It’s easier to start young, but never to late to start.  That’s why I developed The Preschooler Personality Rating Scale that can be used from age two. Most personality traits in young children are quite easy to see in the way they speak, words they use and how they behave.  These behaviours are identified and, rather than boxing a child in, allows the parent to put behaviour in context.

Children will go through a few personality changes and may start to develop more strongly in certain areas.  Personality is not set in stone and is constantly being refined by our environment, expectations of others and consequence.

“My children, who have been raised according to their personality, are developing a strong sense of who they are and that is based on the acceptance  and acknowledgement they have received.” -Eleanor Formaggio

It comes down to being able to identify who a child is: their traits and behaviour. This gives an insight into their perception of the world, their thinking and the motivations behind their behaviour.  As a parent this knowledge is invaluable and I have seen many a parent nod and looked shocked when I describe their child, simply by the behaviour they have told me.

Finally, the easiest way to explain how I parent according to personality is to tell you what I’ve learnt from my own experiences.

*  I don’t treat my children the same. They are individuals and I respect each child for their talents, interests, abilities, strengths and weaknesses.

*  I understand my children respond differently to the consequences I choose for them, so sometimes I adapt my consequence to a more appropriate and effective one for each child.

*  I develop myself by adapting to my children’s needs. They are the child and I am the parent; for example, I am not a naturally “touchy feely” person, so I initiate and institute “cuddle” days because that is what my child needs. 

*  I need to model the behaviour or alternative trait I expect to see in my children because they don’t know any other way.

*  I need to help my children develop skills they don’t have, and this is not a negative, it’s an opportunity to help them understand who they are and what they can achieve.

 Eleanor Formaggio developed The Preschooler Personality™ Kit in 2005 and uses personality knowledge to parent her own children ages 8, 7 and 2. Eleanor is the founder of Parent with Potential which specialises in child behaviour and personality.  For personality products for parents visit Parent with Potential.

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Note from Kelly:  Parenting by personality is like saying this to a child: I love you for who you are and see all you can be. I was raised this way by my own parents and it made me feel loved, secure and special.

What do you think about parenting by personality?

External Links

Parent with Potential

Be A Fun Mum Links

Parenting Siblings: Is it fair?

Siblings: Friends for Life

Personality: Heads and Tails

The Anxious Child: Red Brain, Green Brain

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25 Comments

  • Reply
    How to bond with your family | Parenting Help
    September 24, 2010 at 9:29 am

    […] Parenting and Personality : Be A Fun Mum […]

  • Reply
    Haylie
    September 24, 2010 at 10:16 am

    I think Parenting by Personality is the only way to raise your children. I think we are very naive to think that just because they come from the same womb and are made by the same people that they are going to have similar needs…

    Each precious little soul brought into this world is unique & individual and I personally think as Mums & parents, it is our responsibility to recognise these differences & celebrate this with each child. :o)

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      September 24, 2010 at 10:27 am

      Beautifully said Haylie! Absolutely gorgeous!!

    • Reply
      Erin
      September 24, 2010 at 8:11 pm

      @Haylie,
      Couldn’t agree more, I don’t think its something i really think about, you just learn what works best for each child and embrace that.
      My son (oldest 6) is rather reserved and more pulled back but i dont see why i should force him to be more of a people person, then my youngest (2 y/o girl) is quite out there and can be ‘bossy’ but i want to embrace that she can be assertive (not rude and cruel) but i like the fact I think she will speak her mind and will be more of a leader. then my 2nd child (girl 4) is much in between the 2 personalities.
      they all have the same basic rules but different situations for each one is often dealt with different, just as we have to learn how to approach even some grown uos a certain way, we learn about their personalities and it teaches us how to treat them. ::)

      • Reply
        Kelly Be A Fun Mum
        September 27, 2010 at 7:57 am

        Erin! You’ve hit it on the head! Yes, basic rules for all but we are really empowering them to help themselves if they can understand who they are.

  • Reply
    Dorothy
    September 24, 2010 at 10:55 am

    I’m pretty sure I do this. I know I treat them differently and use different strategies with each, but I don’t really know how I know what to do. It just happens. I think boundaries need to be the same for all, appropriate to age, but how you parent needs to be suited to the child.

    • Reply
      Eleanor Formaggio
      September 24, 2010 at 3:50 pm

      Hi Dorothy,
      Totally agree with what you said about having the same boundaries for all and spending time applying different strategies. It does allow for more creativity!

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      September 27, 2010 at 8:01 am

      I think it just happens when we get to know our children. It’s like any relationship, the more we get to know the person the more we can love them.

  • Reply
    Kel
    September 24, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Very interesting topic, Nell & Eleanor! I’m not yet a mum, but when my time comes, parenting by personality would be my ideal (where possible!) I do have a question for you mums, though: if siblings are aware of their parents’ slightly different modes of interacting with/disciplining individual children and challenge you about it (ie why don’t they receive the same reward/punishment/treatment as their brother/sister in a similar situation), what do you find is an effective response? Thanks 🙂

    • Reply
      Megan
      September 24, 2010 at 11:19 am

      That is a REALLY good question! I’ve never been asked that one yet, so will also be interested in what other mums have said.

    • Reply
      Eleanor Formaggio
      September 24, 2010 at 5:44 pm

      Hi Kel,
      My children haven’t noticed or minded – perhaps because each of their emotional needs are met. If a child did ask it would be good to know what personality type they were and see if you can then include them in the solution finding process, ie. asking them ‘what do you think would be fair? or what do you think should be done differently?’ thus encouraging further discussion. This would depend on their age, of course, but sometimes getting them thinking about things is good too.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      September 27, 2010 at 8:05 am

      Really good question Kel.

      In my experience with my children, I’m teaching them, not only to understand themselves, but eachother too.

      For example, with Cossie, who has speical needs, we have to treat her differently and the other children work hard at this too.

      For me it comes down to love. If we love eachother, then we are going to be understanding of the needs of every person individually. I actually think there is a lot of freedom in that. And you know what — it’s more equal than treating them the same. I know that sounds like I’m contradicting myself but if they are all being treated the way they NEED to be treated rather than the same as everyone, their needs are going to be met and they will feel loved for who they are. That is the key. That the children feel loved for who they ARE. For them as a package, their strenghts and weaknesses; the good and bad, they are loved.

  • Reply
    Megan
    September 24, 2010 at 11:17 am

    I think every parent does, in one way or another. There are so many things to take into consideration when parenting your children. Age, Gender and Behavior are just a few!
    I know I parent to personality, if i didn’t i’d have some pretty cranky kids!

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      September 27, 2010 at 8:06 am

      HA! Love it!

      I know I parent to personality, if i didn’t i’d have some pretty cranky kids!

      Me too!!

  • Reply
    Marita
    September 24, 2010 at 11:35 am

    I just do what works and follow my girls lead. So I suppose that is parenting to their different personalities.

    We do have some basic universal rules. Like ‘it is okay to be angry but it is not okay to let your anger hurt others or yourself’.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      September 27, 2010 at 8:07 am

      I think that is an important point Marita. It’s important to have some basic rules about respect etc. Thanks for raising that.

  • Reply
    Colin Wee
    September 24, 2010 at 11:36 am

    I’m not sure I’d describe my own approach as parenting by personality – I’ve however used the analogy of ‘parent as coach,’ recognising the strengths and weaknesses of each of my children as individuals, empathising with them, yet motivating them to do what has to be done. I like the overlaps with what you say, that each child is an individual and that the parent should address both the means and the ends whilst they manage their children. Many times I am often portrayed as a caricature of a sergeant major when it comes to child rearing – my kids are extremely well behaved and it *must* be that I am a crazy disciplinarian. That’s far from the truth. We treat our children as ‘potential adults,’ and use a very large range of different techniques to elicit cooperation and understanding. Good article. Cheers, Colin

    A related post is an article I guest posted on A Dose of Dannie called Human Children Raised Like Dogs. Enjoy. 🙂

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      September 27, 2010 at 8:12 am

      Potential Adults. That’s an interesting term. I like it. It reeks of respect for the child and I often think we forget that children are people too. Just little people with so much capacity to grow and learn. Our role as parents is to guide them NOT STEER which is an easy trap to fall into.

  • Reply
    Kristy McGrath
    September 24, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    I didn’t realise this “technique” had a name! When we had our first 2 children the differences between them were amazing (aside from the eldest being a boy and the younger a girl hehe) Our son was the biggest smooch (still is) and has the kindest most caring little person I’ve ever seen. Then came our daughter!!!! Well let’s just say independant, strong willed and oh so tempermental doesn’t even touch the sides!! I found it very hard to bond with our daughter as even as a baby a simple cuddle after a feed would result in her devastation and even now at 3, unless on her terms, a cuddle or “I love you” is not received well at all. When we had our third (anther girl) I was terrified of what was to come….and yes she is different again. I have found out first hand the only way to parent is to do it in a way that works for that child. We have standard “safety” rules but even then how I enforce them is very different with each child. I think we all do this without even noticing, maybe it’s another miracle of parenthood. I am pleased though that other people have such different children too.

    • Reply
      Eleanor Formaggio
      September 24, 2010 at 3:35 pm

      I agree about having standard ‘rules’. There are some things that all children need to learn. Unfortunately, not all parents change their approach depending on their child, but parents who are aware of their child’s individuality and adapt their parenting may find parenting more enjoyable and have children who are more self assured and confident in who they are.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      September 27, 2010 at 8:13 am

      Kristy, you’ve summed it all up very well. My boy is a real smooch too. I love it! HA!

      And again the point of standard rules is coming through. I think this is a really important point.

  • Reply
    Julie
    September 24, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Great article. I agree. We have a set of standard “rules’ that are non-negotiable – mostly related to safety, listening to each other and caring for each other.

    My children are still very young (14 months and 2 years, 4 months) but the differences in their personalities are already obvious. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. My daughter (aged 2) is a lot like me and I find it easy to know (so far) how to motivate her, encourage her etc. A lot of my son’s responses I jokingly attribute to him being “a boy” but I know it is more about personality than male-ness. I find myself constantly having to “second-guess” what I am doing with him. Definitely need to adjust my parenting for each child.

    • Reply
      Eleanor Formaggio
      September 24, 2010 at 11:18 pm

      Hi Julie,
      Thanks for your post. You’ve raised a great point that sometimes a certain child is easy to parent and there seems to be a natural fit between the parent and child’s personalities. Also, the opposite can happen and you do find yourself having to work a little harder at the relationship and to finding the perfect strategy that will work. When your children are older you may want to consider the Parent-Child Combination Chart which deals with this and offers insights into how the personalities relate to each other in a family setting. So glad you are choosing to apply this ‘parenting technique’ with your children from a young age.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      September 27, 2010 at 8:19 am

      I too, Julie, am thinking about what you said about finding it easier to “know” the child that is like you. I agree!

      It came to my mind about my own Mother, who, as I was growing up, everyone said I was like (in personality). And I am a lot like my mother and I’m glad of that. However, I did feel a pressure (from myself) to be just like her and I’m not. I’m me and it’s taken me a while to work that out. Interesting thought.

  • Reply
    Tweets that mention Parenting and Personality : Be A Fun Mum -- Topsy.com
    September 25, 2010 at 1:15 am

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Be A Fun Mum, Yssel & Son's, Kelly Long Burstow, Be A Fun Mum, Kelly Long Burstow and others. Kelly Long Burstow said: Parenting and Personality http://bit.ly/bGF5g5 #parenting by @parentresources […]

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