According to a recent study, our personality traits don’t differ as much from our early childhood versus adulthood. Using data from a 1960s study of almost 2,400 elementary students in Hawaii, researchers from the University of California (UC) – Riverside, the Oregon Research Institute, and University of Oregon compared teacher personality ratings of the students with videotaped interviews of 144 of those individuals 40 years later.
“We remain recognizably the same person,” concluded Christopher Nave, the study’s lead author and a doctoral candidate at UC Riverside.
The study found that there were five personality traits kids were likely to carry over into adulthood: being talkative, having a go-with-the-flow attitude, impulsiveness, humility, and confidence. How can you make sure your kids carry the positive traits when they grow up?
According to the study, those who were talkative and verbally fluent as children grew up smart, interested in intellectual matters and in control of situations.
The toddler stage is crucial for language and speech development, so take advantage and talk to your child more. No matter how simple the conversation, use it as an opportunity to elaborate more on what your child is saying. Ask more questions, especially those that start with “what,” “who,” and “where.” This back-and-forth communication helps build her comprehension skills.
At the same time, encourage your toddler to express her feelings. If your child is feeling frustrated or angry, refrain from reprimanding her because it might only cause her to bottle up her feelings and try to deal with negative emotions by herself. Let her tell you what the problem is and then validate her feelings. Afterward, you can talk about finding a solution.
Being able to go with the flow means having good coping skills — no matter what life throws at you, you can spin it to your advantage and you adapt.
Here's where the growth mindset comes in. Instead of giving up easily, children will see it as an opportunity to try again. They’re motivated to act and solve the problem themselves instead of relying on others to fix it for them.
Being impulsive is often seen as a negative trait, but it is also the ability to trust your gut instinct and make quick (but good) decisions. When you let your child decide for herself even at a young age, it gives her the chance to practice independence and risk-taking. It might sound scary at first, but encouraging your kids to take risks will boost their confidence — they will realize they are more than capable if they only take a chance.
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To truly understand the concept of humility, a child should first be able to learn self-acceptance. They need to be comfortable in their own skin so that they won’t compare themselves to others. They may know that at times, they are better, or smarter than others, but they won’t feel the need to boast — instead, let them learn to acknowledge that everyone has her own strengths and weaknesses.
Confidence is something all parents want for their kids, but it’s important to boost her self-esteem without letting her get too in over her head. Develop her sense of responsibility so she can demonstrate competence and feel valued as a person. But don’t pile on the praises — instead, focus on her hard work and her process. When she learns to be confident, she won’t be worried about what others think.
While the study shows that these innate personalities remain in your child as she grows, don’t discount the fact that you have a direct influence on the kind of person she becomes. Knowing that you are responsible for shaping a tiny human’s character is both challenging and inspiring, but trust that with your support and guidance, she’ll grow up exactly the person you want her to be.