Recently I came across this article on Focus on the Family’s website, It’s All Fun and Games. It really just describes different toddler personalities. But it definitely helped me understand my Little Man the Explorer better and helped me to consider his personality as I set expectations for him.
No matter what his personality is, Solomon and I expect Nolan to be respectful and well-behaved. Before I realized that he has an innate passion to explore, I thought that “well-behaved” should be synonymous with sitting still and playing quietly with a toy. Yet the reality is that if I try to force him to sit in one spot at almost any point in a day, he will conjure all of his will-power and strength to escape.
So when it’s not necessary to be restrained for safety (like walking through a parking lot) or for manners (like eating dinner at a restaurant), I’ll usually let him wander, within boundaries.
While our house was being seen by potential buyers on Sunday, we went to a nearby coffee shop. I was going to let Nolan sit in a “big chair” where I spread out crayons, a coloring book, snacks, and several other toys. He couldn’t have been less interested. Instead, he wandered around the shop,
making eye contact with people,
checking out the furniture,
showing off his toy dinosaur,
discovering corners and hallways,
and playing peek-a-boo with new friends.
As long as he stayed out from behind the counter, stayed out of danger, and didn’t bother anyone, we let our Explorer roam.
I’ve also learned that I can’t expect him to sit still if I have doctor appointment when we’re in one room for an extended period of time. Other children with different personalities might be perfectly content with a bag of books and toys. But Nolan is just better off with a babysitter, when possible.
Just as it’s helpful to consider a list of different toddler personalities, it’s also helpful to look at a list of parenting styles. The blog, My Baby Coach, listed a few, Styles of Parenting, What’s Yours? I think it’s great to decide what style we think is best, which we might lean toward subconsciously, and just be aware of both through the course of a day.
Before I discovered Little Man’s big personality, I probably expected myself to have one parenting style (authoritarian- “Sit still, because I said so”). But now that he’s a toddler, his personality is more evident, and I can embrace a parenting style that seems better to me (authoritative- “Because I understand that you have to explore, and I want to keep you safe, you can explore within these boundaries”).
Have you altered your plans and expectations once you discovered your child’s personality?
joy: New friends that Nolan makes with his outgoing personality. He encourages me to be more outgoing!