Our child psychologist advises encouraging your baby’s character building from day one
From the moment you held your baby, you’ll have seen little traits that form the beginning of her unique character. Maybe she sucked enthusiastically during her first feed or perhaps she seemed passive and only sucked slowly. Did she wriggle when you first held her or did she snuggle close to you? When you think about it you’ll realise your baby had a wide range of responses to different situations as soon as she entered this world. These quirks are the building blocks for her personality.
Psychologists have identified three main personality types in babies – easy, difficult and slow to warm up. The easy (or easy-going) baby responds positively to anything that happens around her. She adapts well to new experiences, her behaviour is regular and predictable.
The difficult (or hard-to-manage) baby is very active but is easily irritated. It doesn’t take much to unsettle her; her moods vary and her behaviour doesn’t follow a predictable pattern. This baby does not like change. The slow-to-warm-up (or inactive) baby has mild reactions to most things. Lacking enthusiasm for new experiences, her responses don’t have intensity. Say she doesn’t like a new toy; she’ll simply turn away.
Everyone plans what kind of parent they’ll try to be, but once your baby’s actually here, you have to adjust. For example, if she responds to singing but you don’t like it, it’s time to get vocal. But it’s not just about her personality dictating how you should behave around her, it’s a case of both your characters and likes or dislikes meshing together. Try and be flexible about how you interact with her. Don’t see a trait that you’re not familiar with as wrong just because it’s not how you’d react. Try to see the world through her eyes. She’s learning about her characteristics too and looking to you for reassurance. She may be different from you, but her distinctive blend of traits makes her special. Enjoy the character differences between you, her, and your other children if you have any, as they’re what make your family unique.
Ask your parents what you were like as a child and if there are similarities between your personality as a baby and your own baby’s personality.
Do the same with the parents of your baby’s father. You may be surprised at the similarities they point out.
1. Energy levels. Your baby’s pace might be quick and energetic or she may be relaxed and sluggish, content to respond at her own pace.2. Irritability. Some babies cope with everyday experiences without becoming rattled or upset while others seem more easily wound up.3. Soothability. The ease at which a baby calms down after she’s upset varies greatly from baby to baby.4. Sociability. The sociable baby’s smile when someone approaches is more pleasing than the howls of anxiety from an unsociable baby.5. Fearfulness. Stimulation can generate a baby’s excitement or it can make her fearful, and some babies are more easily frightened than others.
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