Skip to content

    Health & Parenting

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Parenting by Your Toddler's Personality Type

    Whether your tot’s easy, shy, or a certifiable wild child, work with what you've got and reap the happiness.
    By Diane Lore
    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by Anita Schroff, MD

    Rambunctious, mobile, and caught in a riptide of emotion, toddlers are the uncivilized, pedal-to-the-metal humans, matched only by the older edition called teenagers, experts (and parents) say.

    Pediatrician Harvey Karp, author and creator of The Happiest Toddler on the Block, says if babies are angels, then toddlers are cavemen.

    Lara Zibners, an emergency room pediatrician in New York, says, "They eat light bulbs. They shove Legos in their noses. Toddlers are egocentric, emotionally labile, indecisive, and oblivious to danger." Layer in their limited ability to communicate and their individual temperaments, and Zibners, author of If Your Kid Eats This Book, Everything Will Still Be Okay, says, "It's no wonder that many parents can't wait for their child to outgrow this difficult, yet often delightful, phase of childhood."

    Yet parents aren't as helpless as they may sometimes feel. They can master understanding these little creatures. The first step is to figure out your toddler's personality. In The Happiest Toddler on the Block, Karp writes: "Temperament explains why some of us can sleep with the TV on while others go nuts with the tiniest noise, why some forgive easily and others just can't let go. Knowing your child's temperament helps you know when to pamper and when to push."

    Toddler Personality Types

    Experts say there are three broad categories of toddler personality:

    • Easy or happy, but not full-tilt constantly
    • Shy or slow to warm -- often thoughtful and quiet
    • Spirited (a nice term for "Get down off the refrigerator right now!")

    The Easy Child: About half of all kids are easygoing -- waking up on the "right side of the bed," cheerful and ready for a new day, Karp says. They're active, tolerate change, and basically like new people and situations. They don't anger easily, according to the experts, but they aren't pushovers either.

    Parents need to just use common sense if this is their toddler's personality -- with a couple of caveats. Easy children sometimes can be lost in the crowd, spending too much time left alone with the television or not enough time with their parents because other children demand the attention. Make sure that a child who is easy doesn't become a neglected child.

    Today on WebMD

    Girl holding up card with BMI written
    Is your child at a healthy weight?
    toddler climbing
    What happens in your child’s second year.
     
    father and son with laundry basket
    Get your kids to help around the house.
    boy frowning at brocolli
    Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
     
    mother and daughter talking
    Tool
    child brushing his teeth
    Slideshow
     
    Sipping hot tea
    Slideshow
    Young woman holding lip at dentists office
    Video
     
    Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
    Article
    rl with friends
    fitSlideshow
     
    tissue box
    Quiz
    Child with adhd
    Slideshow