Look around any nursery and you’ll see these toddler tribes developing. Which one is yours in?
All babies are hardwired with certain personality traits from the minute they’re born, but their personas really emerge when they’re toddlers. That’s when they start doing, erm, fun things like shoving Lego up their noses (they’re curious), drawing on the walls (immense creativity), or throwing a tantrum because they don’t want to wear what you’ve chosen (assertive/fashion-forward).
These early signs can give you a real taste of what type of adult your child will be – your hyper-energetic tot could be destined to conquer Everest or your laid-back little lady may be a born teacher – and consultant clinical child psychologist Dr Carol Burniston has a few pointers to help you help them live up to their full potential.
So, don’t fret when little Olivia demands her sixth outfit change of the day – she might just be the next Mariah Carey…
The Busy Bee
What he’s like... Full of energy. Take your eyes off him for a second and he’ll be halfway up a lamp post with your handbag.
First word ‘Mine!’
Most likely to Swallow your change.
Could become An entrepreneur, racing driver or athlete.
How to nurture him ‘Give him lots of physical exercise,’ says Carol. ‘These children need to work off their energy or it will explode in less peaceful ways’. Be careful he’s not getting extra stimulation from sugary food, or too much TV.‘Try whispering to him,’ says Carol. ‘He’ll pay attention because the tone will make him think it’s something really important.’
What she’s like No need for stage school, your little one’s already a major diva. She wears her heart on her sleeve – noisily joyful when she’s happy, passionately grumpy when she’s upset.
First word ‘Want!’
Most likely to Tell you off.
Could become An actor, reality star or Lady GaGa.
How to nurture her Find things that soothe her. It might be playing on her own with a jigsaw or reading quietly together. Don’t do too much with her. ‘Parents often create busy itineraries for their kids,’ says Carol. ‘But, if she’s over-stimulated, she will respond negatively.’ Help her find words to describe her emotions. ‘Labelling her feelings will allow her to process them,’ says Carol.
What she’s like Gentle and empathetic. She’s not prone to strops or tantrums – if another toddler snatches her toy, she’ll let them have it.
First word ‘Lalalala!’
Most likely to Give her lunch away.
Could become A teacher, nurse or social worker.
How to nurture her 'Give your Sweetie choices about what she wants to do, so she learns to express her needs,’ says Carol. Build her self-esteem by finding something she likes doing – dancing, music or swimming. When a Sweetie says, ‘No’, be positive that she’s asserting herself, and try to make room for what she wants.
What she’s like This toddler is super-easygoing and takes most things in her stride. If she gets in a tizz, it’s easy to work out what’s upset her.
First word ‘Wow!’
Most likely to Hug strangers.
Could become A musician, dancer or yoga instructor.
How to nurture her ‘Reward your Chillaxer’s sunny outlook with attention, praise and love,’ says Carol. Laugh together. Studies show that the more a child grins, the more her brain pathways become wired towards smiling. If a younger sibling comes along, make sure you don’t neglect your easygoing toddler. If she needs to change her behaviour to get your attention, she will.
What he’s like Articulate – think two year old going on 20. Smart and curious, he’s likely to ask you all those tricky questions.
First word ‘Why?’
Most likely to Announce that Dora The Explorer is for babies.
Could become A CEO, lawyer or psychologist.
How to nurture him ‘Don’t negotiate with kidults,’ says Carol. ‘They need consistent messages.’ Try not to palm him off with untruths – he’s so astute, he’ll guess. Answer his enquiries clearly and confidently whenever you can.
The Mild One
What she’s like This one assesses situations cautiously before joining in. She’s slow to warm up and careful about engaging with new people.
First word ‘Maybe…’
Most likely to Hide in the wardrobe.
Could become An artist, writer or designer.
How to nurture her Invite friends over to play one at a time. Keeping things low-key will help a mild one relax.
Help her learn to operate in new situations by doing role-play. Try playing shopkeepers or hairdressers.
‘If there are going to be changes to your routine, try and warn her in advance,’ says Carol. ‘It gives her a bit of time to adjust.’