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6 Ways to Help Your Preschooler's Personality Blossom

Your 3 to 5 year old is starting to show her true colors.

Ways You Can Help Your Child's Personality Grow continued...

3. Avoid labels. You want your child's personality to develop on its own without being shaped by your (or anyone else's) views. So avoid labeling your preschooler with words like shy, bossy, emotional, or tough.

4. Set an example. You're probably the person your preschooler sees and imitates the most. So it's up to you to model politeness, sharing, and patience.

5. Realize it's nature and nurture. Don't chalk up your child's personality to just his or her nature or the nurturing you provide. Both matter, Deater-Deckard says, and both work "together to create the diversity of children’s and adults' personalities."

6. Let your child be himself or herself, not an image of you. Maybe you're very outgoing, focused, quiet, or shy. You may want your child to be like that, too. But it's much more important that your child be him or herself and that your child make friends and meet the world in his or her own way.

There are more ways to help your child's personality grow. For instance, reading to your preschooler can be an important key, Altmann says. She also favors limiting television time.

Other experts recommend supporting your preschooler's interests and broadening your child's experiences. How you help your child's personality develop just may turn out to be as unique as your child.

Should You Try to Change Your Preschooler?

Preschoolers should be allowed to be themselves while still being encourage to try out things that may seem to stretch their emerging personalities.

By the preschool years, Deater-Deckard says, the major parts of personality are already pretty stable. But they're not rigid. "People change," Deater-Deckard says, and the parts of us that make up our personalities have a certain amount of flexibility.

Deater-Deckard suggests that instead of trying to change your child's personality, focus on giving the child experiences "that may support growth in new directions."

"I encourage parents to enjoy and even relish each child’s individual qualities and strengths," Deater-Deckard says, "while they try to figure out how to respond to that same child’s more challenging or difficult behaviors."

Deater-Deckard's main advice for parents is to "strive to create a loving and supportive environment, rather than trying to make the child become like a particular kind of person."

Reviewed on July 25, 2012
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