When we first meet a person, much of that first impression is conveyed by their personality. Unconsciously, you ‘size up’ a person, based on a number of factors and characteristics. For example, when you go to a restaurant, your waiter or waitress might approach you with a smile, a friendly voice and a helpful attitude. These are all indications of one facet of a healthy personality, which relates to temperament. On the other hand, you may assess the person’s demeanor to lack authenticity, so you decide this person is phony. Another person might come across as angry or bitter. Maybe they’re just having a bad day, but nonetheless that’s the impression you gain. It’s difficult to make a fair assessment of anyone based on a single encounter, but we all do it anyway.
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So, how might you describe a healthy personality? There are certain inherent characteristics of personality that we are all born with, such as being outgoing, shy, or aggressive by nature. This is what makes us individual and unique. As parents, we have a great deal of influence in developing those natural proclivities, for good or ill. If a child’s naturally outgoing personality is squelched by an overprotective parent, this alone will modify the formation of that child’s personality as he grows up. Pushing a shy or quiet child into the limelight has an impact as well. As for the aggressive child, it depends, as this can be a two-sided coin. Is the child overly aggressive in ways that are harmful to others, or is this aggressive nature more indicative of a proactive, go-getter attitude?
The point is that, given the individual nature of every child, it behooves parents to help guide their children towards the development of a healthy personality, steering the child who’s always wanting to fight towards a more balanced outlook. Cultivating a healthy personality is not an easy task, but one of the most rewarding jobs of a parent. We all want our kids to grow up to be stable, responsible, happy adults.
It’s important to note that kids do learn by example. If a boy’s father is too authoritarian, punishing him unjustly or with little cause, these actions will do little to shape a healthy personality in that boy. If a girl is a bit of a tomboy and Mom would rather she be the beauty pageant type, this attitude will doubtless breed feelings of inadequacy. In both cases, resentment and rebellion will follow, sooner or later. If Mom and Dad are always fighting, kids tend to feel guilty, assuming it’s their fault. Notice that resentment, rebellion and guilt are all detrimental to an ultimately healthy personality. Let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of a healthy personality and see how you can best nurture a stable, responsible and happy adult.
You might begin with making an assessment of your own personality. Are you generally happy and cheerful, or do you become easily annoyed, snapping at anyone who crosses your path at the wrong moment? Is your behavior generally reasonable, or do you frequently come off on people for minor transgressions? Every parent has their own quirks. Try to change some of your own negative behaviors before you start passing them on to your kids. As Rome wasn’t built in a day, so ingrained patterns of behavior don’t disappear overnight.
If you’re the snappish type who often takes it out on your kids, you’re going to have lapses. When you do, apologize to your kid, letting them know you recognize your own fault. You might say, “Hey Jane, I know I’ve got a problem with my temper sometimes and I shouldn’t have taken it out on you. I’m trying hard to work on this and I promise to improve this behavior. Guess it’s got to be in little baby steps, one at a time. I’m sorry, Sweetie.” Just leave it at that and keep working on the problem.
Believe me, your child will respond favorably and will learn a lesson that helps her along the way to a healthy personality of her own. She learns that everyone has personality flaws, but also that acknowledging them in a purposeful effort towards change is possible. Receiving an apology teaches her that appropriate humility is an asset. Your promise to work on this problem shows that people can change their behavior. So, this one example scenario creates a positive outlook and reasonable approach. Your child also picks up on your honesty and taking responsibility for your own actions. You’ve done quite a bit in this single incident to help develop a healthy personality, simply by example.
You’ve got to be consistent in your own efforts to deal fairly and honestly with your kids – it’s an everyday effort. They will copy your example!
Using such a strategy over the years you have your child in your home will reward you and your child. You’ll find that a balanced and moderate approach, using and teaching critical thinking skills, encouraging an even temperament, positive outlook, honesty, authenticity and responsibility are all essential elements of a healthy personality.
Kids are smarter and more observant than many of us give them credit. By the time they’re grown, they’ll be ready for the real world, equipped with the armor of a healthy personality they will surely pass on to their own kids. Set the best example you can and you’ll succeed!