Shaping Your Babies Personality- as a Parent Have You Thought About This?

Updated on August 31, 2010
A.S. asks from Van Nuys, CA
14 answers

I have been reading studies on shaping a child's personality and I wanted to know what you moms think about this.
So basically all the studies I have read said that as parents we should shape our child's personalities by the age of five because if we don't then that is the personality that they are going to have for the rest of their lives. (Freud believes by the age of 7- that this is the personality they are going to have for the rest of their lives) Now, me being a new mommy didn't even think about having to shape my child's personality and I have been thinking about this for a few weeks now.
So my questions to you are:
Do you think that as a parent you are going to shape your child's personality?
Do you believe that a child already is predisposition to the personality they have now because their personality started when they were in the womb?
If you are going to shape your child's personality will you find it hard because we view the world as adults and they view it differently as children?
Do you feel its important for you or your spouse/boyfriend to shape their personality? I ask this question I know some parents have their kids in daycare or with babysitters and if your child is with the most of the time then how would you cope with that person shaping your child's personality.
Do you think that shaping a personality is nature vs. nurture.

I am having a hard time figuring this out- I know that if my son throws temper tantrums that last 45 minutes then I will try to get my son's tantrum to last for a shorter amount of time. I am finding it hard to even think about shaping my son's personality because I want him to figure out this world for himself like I had to. I feel like he already has his own personality and with his own experiences growing up he will shape it himself and I am just there to guide him- like a temp-let besides protecting him to the fullest.

Any questions/opinions/suggestions are more than welcomed with this question.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Anchorage on

Kids are who they are. I raised my boys the same and they could not be more different, and that is OK! Let kids be who they are.

5 moms found this helpful

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answers from Columbus on

Oh my goodness. I think I would quit reading this stuff, and just let it go. Have a cup of what ever it is that you enjoy, and sing a little song with your little one and enjoy some endorphins from thier precious giggles and smiles while you can.

We cannot control all that much in life, really. So many things right now are presuring young mothers into choosing the right plan for everything from birth to healthcare and education to dicipline, all tightly controled by fickel philosphy, which will change dramatically within the next few years, because it always does. The way the world has influenced this generation is astounding, so determined to be in charge of every detail, and devistatingly disapointed by the reality that we don't have that much to say about so many things. Personality is one of them. The harder you try to infuence that in your child, the more you will excacerbate those tendancies that will drive you bat crazy once they can walk, talk, wipe themselves, and choose your nursing home.


7 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

I would definitely not want to shape my child's personality. I love and accept them for who they are, challenges, gifts, all wrapped into one amazing bundle.

My perspective is different. I was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks after my daughter's birth (second child), and I've so far been fortunate to see them grow and thrive. It's been almost 2 years, and I'm truly blessed each day I get to experience with them.

My husband and I both have strong, out-going personalities. We're natural leaders. Our son is not. He's passive, he's a follower, and I accept him unconditionally.

I believe in shaping their manners, their outlook on life, their ethics, their integrity, their desire to be kind to other people. But, I want those traits to fit into the person they are naturally. I want them to explore life and become who they are meant to be on their own - I just hope to keep cancer away long enough to teach them what I know and allow them to flourish on their own.

I don't think discipline has anything to do with personality. Children can be taught to be respectful and can understand expectations and consequences, but I differentiate that from molding/shaping their personalities.

Our kids are naturally polar opposite in personality, but we treat them fairly in how we love/nurture them as well as discipline (though the approach is different based upon their personalities).

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Ignore Freud.
He's a crock.

I have Behavioral Science and Anthropology degrees.

you cannot shape, absolutely nor conclusively, a child's personality.
But you can contribute to their perspectives... BUT... because there is free-will... which you cannot control, nor what a person comes out to be... NOR at each age juncture and in relation to their own life experiences or how that impacts their psyche. Personality... is not fixed. But "tendencies" are always there...

A child does have a "temperament" or 'disposition'... which may be confused with "personality." It is 2 differing issues. Not necessarily contingent upon each other.

Then there are the cultural impacts, upon a person's 'belief system'... which is not contingent upon their 'personality' either. Because, cultural constructs and where a person is raised... also impacts a child's disposition..... their whole cultural "Ethos."

"Personality" is an individual construct. Upon that, there is also the individual within the greater societal and cultural environments... which also impacts their outlook, in relation to their personality. And how that is expressed.

You cannot 'make' a child's personality finitely. Because it is always not finite... not static. It changes... per age, per circumstance, per events that happens to the person...good or bad. And it also entails a persons sense of "attitude." Which a person can be born with... but that is also, not static.

You can impact a child... or any person. But you cannot 'make' them. But you can of course, affect them. Deeply.

"Personality" is a catch-all phrase.... that encompasses many different aspects.

all the best,

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

In my 63 years of observation (of myself and other babies and children) and of reading countless books on psychology, philosophy, and parenting, it seems to me that "shaping personality" is a mistaken concept. "Shaping behavior" or "optimizing opportunities" or "enhancing experience" are all doable, however. And perhaps most important, "influencing attitudes and beliefs."

And that can be good or bad for a child. No matter what their personalities, kids are easily indoctrinated into a family's attitudes, beliefs, and habits in early years. That's life-shaping, because once those are set, they are extremely hard to change, even with conscious effort. Whether we can trust life as essentially good or must guard ourselves eternally against evil people and a dangerous world, whether work is joy or drudgery, how capable or helpless we are encouraged to be, how much the world "owes" us or how much we "owe" others, and how much respect we learn to give ourselves and others, all these are first impacted, deeply, by the parents upon which children are totally dependent for the first years of their lives.

Once those attitudes and beliefs are set, it takes a great deal of inner work or outside influence to budge them.

Children don't arrive in the world as blank slates. That was once a popular idea which has been discredited by actual observation, experimentation, and extensive study. Nevertheless, it is still a cherished notion in some circles, and it's a common assumption by many parents whose own parents held to that pattern.

But what parents do is shape a child's attitudes, beliefs, and behavior, with very little effect on the personality. It sounds like this is what you have come to realize about your son. I'm glad that you're taking seeing yourself as your son's guide, and not his "designer." Lucky little boy!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

How many adults who have siblings, raised in the same family who are completely different from one another? Also, if we all were “shaped” wouldn’t that mean we would all be the same?

My DD just confirmed to me when she was about 6 months old that everyone is born with their own personality. Our role as parents (imo) is to teach them right from wrong; to try to provide and be good examples for them to learn from - which of course includes being encouraging and loving among other things.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Asheville on

Personality is an interesting topic to explore, but rather than over analyzing it, I'd offer that for their inherent personalties to unfold that you love them everyday, support them in their dreams, keep them safe, and let them blossom into the unique beings they are. They'll be happiest then and it will be rewarding to you to watch their lives unfold knowing you did have a role in it.

A mom posted this and I copied it. It's well worth posting again.

Khahlil Gibran
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and the daughters of Life's yearning for itself.
They come through you,
but they are not of you
and though they are with you,
they belong not to you.

You may give them your love
but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies
but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,

which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them,

but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward
nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children

as living arrows are sent forth. 

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,

and He bends you with His might

that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness; 

For even as He loves the arrow that flies, 

so He loves also the bow that is stable."

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I would never try to shape my daughter's personality, although she's a lot like me, if i tried to "shape" her, then she'd be just like me, if God wanted another "me" then i would have a twin, and it still wouldn't be "me". let them become who they want to become as long as it's not hurting them or those around them. that's part of the fun in having children watching what God created and gave to you become something all their own. what fun would it be if we could "shape" our kids, sometimes they teach us too, and they couldn't teach us if they didn't have their own personalities.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Nope. Haven't thought about it a bit. It's pretty much an unconscious process for me. But I have had teachers tell me my son has a certain joy of life a lot of other kids don't seem to have. I guess I've taught him to enjoy the moment and laugh at some of the absurd things life throws at you sometimes.
One time when he was about three we put on our rain coats and boots and went to the park on the corner as a rain storm was finishing up. We're coming to a big puddle in the sidewalk so we stopped. He looks at me. I look at him. And I jump both of my feet into the puddle making a huge splash! You should have seen the pure look of joy in his eyes as he jumped right in too! Sometimes puddle jumping is just called for.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on


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answers from Des Moines on

I have a 3 yr old, a 5 yr old and am 35 weeks pregnant with our 3rd...I believe stability, encouragement and LOTS of love are the most important for our children. I am lucky enough to be at home with my kiddos through the week and my husband is with them on the weekends when I work. I also think they have their own personalities that is evident from birth, my son and daughter have completely different personalities from each other and looking back from the time they were babies until now, they have been consistent in their own personalities since they were born. Lots of love, lots of snuggles and consistency is what we are trying, I guess I can let you know if it worked out for us in about 15 years ;) Good luck, this is a hard one. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I spent my whole pregnancy looking forward to meeting my new family member. i imagined what thier personality would be and oh boy are they differant from each other. From the word go -diffferant. And no I would never change a hair on thier heads. I'm amazed at how sweet my boy is and how fiery my girl is. I can't wait to see what they turn out to be.
On the other hand, why do middle children all seem to have similar personality markers. Being the peacekeepres of the family, etc. They certainly don't know they are the middle child, yet the traits are there. WHy are 1st born the way they are, and the babies of the family? Has to be what we did to them, right?
So, I guess this is the classic nature vs nurture debate. How much of personality is by design and how much do we screw them up!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Hi, I have a Ph.D in psychology although not child orietned. I have thought about this but not in the way you have. I take a more general attitude. Every single interaction my child has shapes her personality and thus I try to make positive outcomes for her. I try to give her a broad and happy range of experiences and when the experiences are bad I focus on giving her coping skills to make the best of it. By doing so, I figure I will have an optimistic child who sees the world as a generally good place, can deal with new situations, and who can also deal with frustration and disappontment.

I know something about domestic violence and read once something like "everytime a child sees dad hit mom, it takes away a little bit of their security and confidence and self worth." I believe that is true, and I have sort of extrapolated to this idea that life is just a series of experiences. So we should try to focus on the small things. Things we think are minor - getting frustrated with our bosses, being snotty to our husbands, smiling at our child when she comes downstairs in the morning. Small, small moments that are the things that shape our child's personality and view of the world.

So can you shape your child's personality like you would mold a statue? No. Becasue you can't control the world. But you can pay attention to the small stuff and focus on making the best of every moment. Yes, I believe there is a window where you do much of the work to make your child secure and confident in the world and this probably is from infancy to 5,6,7ish. But it won't stop then. And I don't believe the damage from those years can't be undone (say in an abused child) because every moment matters..

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boise on

I think that everything around you helps shape personalities. That is why it is so important to have good influences around kids, and model good and positive behavior. If you are constantly gloomy, don't interact with your kid, etc., they may be just as negative. I think that there is both nature and nurture at work. I haven't consciously tried to shape my son's personality, but I see it coming out, and try to guide him in the right direction.

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