“Just where did my kid come from?” …  “Sometimes I just don’t get her” … “Where did he learn to say that?”

You would be amazed at how many parents of young children entertain such simple thoughts from time to time, especially when their child seems to be acting up or zoning out. You see, as parents we really have to walk a very thin tightrope – a balance of allowing our children to grow into who they really are, but at the same time “fit in” to:

  •   family expectations
  •   school requirements, and, as they get older
  •   friendship, relationship and career aspirations (yours, that is … not theirs).

It doesn’t have to be this way. Your child was born as a unique human being, one with a ready-made set of strengths, weaknesses and gifts … their “talent” … the value they will bring to others as they grow towards adulthood.

There are six key areas of influence over your child’s development:

  •   natural behaviours
  •   external influences
  •   mimicking language
  •   learned behaviours
  •   modelling others
  •   genetic heritage

When all are put together, we begin to get a glimpse of the ‘personality’ of the child, a taste of what they will become as they grow.

To be aware of this as a parent is gold, for both parent and child. And it is very important to understand these key drivers influencing your child’s growth and development to ensure an ongoing positive environment for your child to grow in.

Natural behaviours:

Everybody has unique talents, and everyone seeks to think and act in the most natural way to themselves. When allowed to be our natural selves we experience:

  •   harmony in our relationships
  •   a sense of flow in all our activities
  •   complete satisfaction in all we do.

When we are forced to assume behaviours not natural to us we quickly begin to feel:

  •   frustration
  •   out of sorts
  •   as if we were acting like someone else.

For adults, we can encounter this behavioural rollercoaster daily, and we have become used to controlling these shifts in our activities, tasks and interactions. But when a child is “made” to do and say things in a way not natural for them, they start to feel as if they are not up to standard, as if they are not making their parents proud, or their teachers happy.

How can you identify your child’s natural behaviour in their early years?

Try watching for such tell-tale signs as how:

  •   they talk about their day at daycare or at school
  •   fussy they are when dressing
  •   they eat their food
  •   focused they are when playing with (for example) Lego blocks
  •   comfortable and willing they are to be around people they are not so familiar with
  •   patient they are
  •   how they attend to tasks given to them.

The list is endless, but you get the picture. These behaviours quickly identify your child’s natural way of thinking and acting. Knowing this puts you in a better position to guide your child along their own natural path of engagement, communication and action.

Learned behaviours:

When children begin to adopt learned behaviours (behaviours that belong to someone else, but have become “normal” for them), they are in danger of adopting living and learning styles that will follow them into adulthood. They will grow up believing, and accepting, such behaviours are what they have chosen to do or become.

To become a fully integrative, functioning person we need to be able to:

  •   distinguish our natural talents, abilities and personalities from what were imposed on us
  •   appreciate the influences others have had over time (for some this never goes away)
  •   decide what to accept and keep, what to discard, what to seek instead.

You know how hard this can be for a fully functioning adult. So why do we allow our children to go through this, even though we have the best of intentions?

A successful person will utilise a combination of natural and learned behaviours as they mature into adulthood.

As parents, we need to remain aware of this and provide our children with the opportunity of being who they choose to be, given that sometimes we recognise the need to intervene for their own good.

In part one, we have addressed the first two of the six key areas of influence over your child’s development – natural and learned behaviour. In part two, we will continue this discussion on the remaining key areas every parent should be mindful of.

Do your children have a strong individual personality? Share with us below!

Image source Shutterstock.

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  • All 3 of my kids are totally different. The youngest is most like me and I admit I find it amazing watching her grow. So many times i think how she handles things and reacts is amazing and then Im stunned when it downs on me that shes just like me…lol


  • All my children have strong individual personalities and they are all doing well. They are a product of my partner and I and to me it seems that they have the best points from the two of us. Fantastic loving and lovely children.


  • I am happy my child has a sweet, beautiful and often funny nature.


  • My child is very energetic with a cheeky personality, the latter his father blames on me when it suits him. My other one is so laid back. So I doubt environment has mcuh to do with it.


  • My son is very much a product of my husband and I and how we have role modelled. However, he is just kicking goals and in school at the moment. I’ve found myself saying – who are you? I am so proud of the leadership roles he is taking on, his polite manners, what others in his peer group and school community think of him. He’s always been a little different to others, in a fantastic way, and he is really shining at the moment. I’m so proud of him.


  • Sometimes they are copying behaviour from us – we don’t realise we are behaving in the same way. Food for thought !! Professional advice people I knw have been given.

    • Absolutely agree. It is one of the more common issues we have had to work with over time. In Part Two of this article we have a brief look at this, so love to hear your thoughts when it is published.


  • Strong personalities are good and make life interesting.

    • Totally agree. To my mind, the “interesting” part of personalities in life is twofold – in the first instance, to know your own personality (which is a combination of many factors) and be aware of the personalities of those you interact with certainly allows opportunity for engaged communication. And secondly, exploring how each personality can work with (or against) other personalities is a vital (and positive) step forward in creating strong working relationships.


  • Yes my kids have all a strong personalty each in their own way.

    • Fantastic, and a great photo too. Something for you to consider. Personality is complex, made up of quite a few components, some of which are influenced by “outside” forces. So, what if you thought about the natural talents (and behaviours) your children have … and how they can be encouraged (and supported) to discover, explore and utilise those talents as they grow. Being allowed to explore your “personality”, especially from a young age, can have a strong influence on the direction a person’s life may take as they mature into adulthood.


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