Child Behavior Vs. Personality:
It's not about us

We've all done it. We see a child acting horrible at the playground and think the mother is too lenient. We see a child who's "too" obedient and we think she must be beaten into submission.

We judge other parents by the behavior of their kids. When our own kids are good we give ourselves smug pats on the back, and when they're like rabid lemurs on speed, we wonder how we've failed so badly.

The more I grow as a mother, the more I realize how utterly clueless most of us (myself included) are about how much we really matter. :)

I have a secret. It's not about us.

Those kids that climb the refrigerator and worse, try to climb Great Grandma? They'd be doing it whether they were raised by the most empathetic, loving parents or spent half their lives in time out in their bedrooms. And yes, they'd be doing it if they were spanked and their parents "set limits." Some kids are just wilder than others.

And those little angels who obediently trot after parents in grocery stores and happily carry on precocious conversations with the check-out lady? They'd be doing it in just about any family they happened upon, within reason.

Yes, how we parent has a huge influence on our children's behavior. For instance, if we take our kids to the grocery store right before nap time, most kids are going to be cranky and out of hand. If we get into power struggles with our two year olds and use "no" more frequently than we use oxygen, of course we're going to have rebellious toddlers prone to bucking the simplest request.

And of course if we raise our children with love and respect, we're going to have children who are more loving and respectful.

But when it comes to their core personalities, there's not a lot that we have to do with it. Some children are full of such energy that calm redirection is not going to work a lot of time. Some children have loud voices or are so stubborn that cement mules look blissfully obedient. Some children are naturally quiet, shy or easy-going.

Too often, our society has one model of how things should be. Look at fashion-- almost any type of clothing for women is put on women who are all pretty much exactly alike. They're tall, thin, busty... you know the type.

We go to find clothes and feel like failures because they don't make us look like that. What most of us eventually find out is that we need to shop for our bodies, not for those models. So we look for tops that show off our great arms, colors that flatter our skin tones, drop waists that define us, etc.

Our kids are never going to fit the perfect model, at least not regularly. They are delightfully individual!

If your child has the attention span of a gnat and enough energy to power a small town, there's nothing you need to fix or change. There's sure nothing you're doing wrong. Of course you can help him by making sure he gets enough rest, enough quiet time, and a diet that helps keep him physically and emotionally healthy. But don't compare him to the neighbor's quiet daughter or even his older brother.

Yes, we can parent in ways that will help create polite children, loving children, smart and fulfilled children. And yes, despite all of that some of us will still have quite wonderful children who climb Great Grandma. Just keep her safe in the meantime and know you're doing just fine.

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All works on this site Alicia Bayer unless otherwise noted.
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