From the moment she was born, Andrea Kaye's toddler, Sally, was a firecracker. "She's been outgoing from Day 1," says the mom from Brooklyn. "Now she's more active than ever -- running around like a nut, waving at strangers, and letting us know exactly what she wants or doesn't want, whether it's spitting out her peas or refusing to give up her bottle."
Most of us realize that our children have a distinct personality from the get-go, and experts agree: "Some aspects of a child's temperament are essentially hardwired," says Jonathan Pochyly, PhD, pediatric psychologist at Children's Memorial Hospital, in Chicago. "Many are predisposed to, say, being shy. But that doesn't mean you can't help guide and influence your child's behavior." In fact, there are plenty of ways to help your little one feel comfortable with who she is and to realize her full potential. So go ahead and pick one of the four common personality types that best sums up your kid. Then find out how to nurture those special qualities and quirks!
Your shy child may be anxious on unfamiliar terrain and may be more an observer than a joiner. Since new situations can be hard for slow-to-warm-up children, give her time to feel at ease.
He's a dream come true, with a calm, go-with-the-flow, always-sunny disposition. That doesn't mean, however, that easy children are all smooth sailing. In fact, it might be harder to get or hold his attention, and he still needs lots of love and time.
Joyful, energetic, and entertaining, he'll also dig in his heels and let you know loudly and clearly when he's unhappy.
She's the one barreling around the playground, darting toward anything that catches her eye. These kids are confident and likely to become leaders, but their fearlessness can also send them running headlong into unsafe situations.
The labels we give our children may stick with them forever, says Dr. Harvey Karp. So make sure that you're accentuating the positive! These simple substitutes can go a long way toward making your child feel he's great.
Old Label: ShyNew Label: CarefulWhy It Works: A shy child hides from the world, but a careful one just takes smarter steps when he goes out into it.
Old Label: WildNew Label: EnergeticWhy It Works: Wild implies out-of-control, while energetic describes a child who's enthusiastic about life.
Old Label: FussyNew Label: SelectiveWhy It Works: Fussy connotes crabbiness and pickiness, while selective means he won't settle for anything less than the best.
Old Label: StubbornNew Label: TenaciousWhy It Works: A stubborn child refuses to give in without knowing why, while a tenacious one is a fighter who won't quit.
Old Label: SlowpokeNew Label: ThoughtfulWhy It Works: Slowpoke sends the signal that a child is lazy, while thoughtful indicates he's taking the time to consider his options.
Old Label: DefiantNew Label: CourageousWhy It Works: A defiant child refuses to do anything that's asked of him, while a courageous one sticks up for what he believes in.
Copyright 2007. Reprinted with permission from the August 2007 issue of Parents magazine.