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How to Know What Your Kids are Made of

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I saw a protein bar the other day with its ingredients listed in big letters right on front of the package. Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought if kids came with that kind of packaging so moms would know exactly what their kids were made of? Knowing the characteristics of children, their make up, and tendencies help us parent more specifically to their needs.

As I was staring at the protein bar I decided to break down the ingredients and packaging of my own children:

12-Year-Old Boy: Contains conflicting ingredients of wanting to be a good kid but wanting to show off for friends. Fearful of missing out. This child was produced in a plant that manufactures children with big hearts and big personalities.

8-Year-Old Girl: Perfectionist ingredients require little outside pressure from parents. High-achieving additives make her susceptible to pleasing others at all costs. Good source of creativity and sweetness.

Here’s how knowing your kids’ key “ingredients” can help you better understand them.

Ingredients by age.

There are stages that apply generally to all children. Toddlers will exert independence, tweens will crave peer approval, teenagers will think we are hopelessly out of touch.

Familiarize yourself with what is normal for each stage of your child’s life so you’ll understand when a trait-ingredient is unique to your child, and when it’s part of your child’s current life stage.

3 Toddler Needs and Three Things to Avoid

5 Signs of Tween Anxiety

5 Teen Challenges

Ingredients by sex.

While boys and girls share many of the same challenges, there are some unique to each sex. One study* found that girls tend to be more extroverted than boys and score higher in enthusiasm and agreeableness.

Boys score higher in assertiveness and excitement seeking. They also have a surge in testosterone in their adolescent and teenage years, so the ingredient of anger is often more prevalent in them. Girls’ hormone fluctuations near the start of their periods add a volatility component to their makeup.

Ingredients by personality traits.

I’ve written before about the turtle and rabbit personalities of my children and how they require me to parent each of them differently. It’s worth the time to really focus on the ingredients that make up your child’s primary personality traits.

The sensitive child needs a mom who won’t call her names or explode in anger at her. These children are very attuned to the reactions of others, so help her learn not to base her worth on how others react or how she perceives their reactions. This article has great tips on how to discipline the sensitive child with love.

The anxious child needs help learning to manage his anxiety. Our Mothers’ Guide to Handling Childhood Anxiety will help you greatly in parenting a child with anxiety.

The impulsive child requires patience and calmness from us. They also need to learn the concepts of self-control and self-discipline. These self-control conversation starters can help you help your child to think before he acts.

We can’t cover every personality type here, so check out our Parenting page on to find the articles that pertain to your child. Our search tool is also great for finding specific childhood traits and how to best handle them.

Finally, if we can identify these tendencies, we can help our children learn to shape them and live with them. Of course, never give your child a personality label. Figuring out your child’s ingredient makeup is just a tool for you and your parenting.

Tell us! What are your children made of?



What do you think is your best quality?

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