Monday, January 30, 2012

The Born Personality

I was talking to someone the other day about my kid's personalities, and how their personalities were evident from birth. Every parent knows that each child is different from any other, from the day they are born. With my kids, one funny thing I noticed is the predictability of their eating habits.

My first was a lazy sucker, and I mean that literally. He just hung out at
the breast, often falling asleep, and never really sucked very hard. He just didn't seem to have that much interest, and as he got older he didn't show much interest in solid food either. It was always a struggle to find food that he would eat.

At 22, he's the same today. He has a few foods he likes but generally he doesn't eat much. Even as a teenager he never ate large quantities of food and was always selective.

My daughter, on the other hand, sucked hard as a baby and was always hungry. She had teeth early and ate solid food early too. She is thin but can out eat her older brother at any meal or snack time. Even at 21, if she doesn't get food every few hours she'll start to get cranky.

My youngest was similar to my daughter but he had refined tastes. If I ate something he didn't like he wouldn't nurse. Yes, he would refuse my breast if it didn't taste right to him. Eventually by 8 months he would get frustrated and bite me, so that was the end of that.

For #3 baby the bottle and solid foods were subject to the same scrutiny, he loved food that was good quality and tasted good. If I tried to hide medicine in his bottle he would taste it and throw it across the room. If he didn't like the food on his plate he would push it away and go look in the fridge for something else. As he was growing up he was always commenting on what he liked or didn't like, and comparing school food, Grammy's food and the food he experienced at friends houses. So I'm really not surprised that he's in culinary school now.

Personality was evident in many other ways too. They showed specific preferences for certain kinds of clothes by 18 months. They were not in child care and we didn't watch TV, so they weren't really being influenced in that way. My baby daughter liked dresses, even though I wore pants. My oldest had to have soft comfortable clothing, and the youngest just liked things simple. It's so interesting to see how these preferences still continue to influence their style choices today.

Then there are relationships and activity choices. My oldest is sociable but more in response to the initiative of others. As a kid he was always climbing trees and discovering creatures. Still today he loves the outdoors and animals.

My daughter was very outgoing & sociable even as a baby. When she was about 2 1/2, my husband and I were watching a Liza Manelli special on TV and it totally reminded us of our little girl. How strange, we thought at the time, but today she is pursuing a career in theater. We never tried to influence her choices.

The youngest was never sociable, and really didn't like crowds as a baby. He hated going to church because there were too many people. He never grew out of this. He has a few close friends and enjoys reading and more solitary pursuits. He does believe in God, but on his own terms.

As my kids were growing up I used to think that they would grow out of this or that, and sometimes I would even try to push them to get over their preferences, or try something new. I don't think that's a bad thing to do in moderation. However, it's very clear to me now that they were born with very specific personalities and preferences. I think it was most helpful for them when I could encourage them to explore what they really liked, and help them use their interests and preferences to develop good character.

How do you see your children's personality traits? Are they growing out of preferences, or growing through them? Share your thoughts in a comment below.

1 comment:

  1. It is interesting to see kid's personalities when they are very young and whether they change or not. My child has some characteristics that have remained stable and others that have changed over time. It sounds like some aspects of your children's personalities were pretty set from early on!

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