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Health & Parenting

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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.

Toddler Personality Types continued...

The Shy Child: About 15% of kids are shy or slow to warm up. By 9 months, many easy babies will smile at strangers. But shy kids will frown and cling. They'll wave bye-bye only after a guest leaves.

Children with this toddler personality are often extra-sensitive to the feel of their clothing or the temperature in a room. They need a lot of transition time from activity to activity and resist change. They might be late walkers and they will often study, with intensity, how a game is played before jumping in. Karp says, "Their motto is, 'When in doubt, don't!'"

These are gentle souls and should be shielded from harsh criticism and ridicule. Rejection can make a shy child fearful and brittle throughout life. Also, parents need to make sure children with this toddler personality have the stability and the time to process the curve balls of life; they can't be rushed into getting dressed or to sit on Santa's lap.

The Spirited (Wild) Child: About one in 10 toddlers is a strong-willed, challenging kid. "These roller-coaster kids have high highs and low lows," Karp says. "Parents usually know they have a spirited child because they're the 'more' kids." More active. More impatient. More impulsive. More defiant. More intense. More sensitive. More rigid."

The No. 1 recommendation to parents of children with this toddler personality is to keep them active. Get them outside to play -- a lot. These kids need to burn off their energy and work through their moods. They also need firm structure to keep them safe and stable -- and lots of patience.

Every Child Is Unique

Of course, no child is defined by just one toddler personality type. But these three types can serve as a guide on how to interact.

"Pay attention and pick up the nuance of your child," Karp says. "Kids are like flowers, each one is different, but special. So whether your child is a playful poppy or a shrinking violet, love and celebrate your child for his or her uniqueness."

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Reviewed on September 08, 2015

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