What is Your Toddler’s Personality Type?


“If babies are angels, then toddlers must be cavemen.”

My neighbor says that a lot on those bad days.

“I just wish I could have prepared myself better for the attack of the Flintstones,” she whines while telling me that her 3- and 4 year-olds are uncivilized, oblivious to danger and totally egocentric. “They shove toy trucks and puzzle parts in their noses. They eat light bulbs.”

Toddlers are full of surprises. But parents can master understanding these little creatures. The first step: Figure out your toddler’s personality. Knowing your child’s temperament helps you know when to pamper and when to push.

Generally, toddler personality is divided into three broad categories, experts say:

  • Easy or happy, but not constantly.
  • Shy or slow to warm — often thoughtful and quiet.
  • Spirited (a nice term for “Get down off the refrigerator right now!”)

The Easy Child: About half of kids are easygoing — waking up “on the right side of the bed,” cheerful and ready for a new day. They’re active, tolerate change, and basically like new people and situations. Parents need to just use common sense if this is their toddler’s personality. Easy children sometimes can be lost in the crowd — spending too much time left alone with the television, or not enough time with their parents because other children demand the attention. Make sure that a child who is easy doesn’t become a neglected child.

The Shy Child: About 15 percent of kids are shy or slow to warm up, experts say. By age 9 months, many easy babies will smile at strangers, but shy kids will frown and cling. Experts say children with this toddler personality type need a lot of transition time from one activity to another activity. They might be late walkers and they will often study, with intensity, how a game is played before jumping in. Their motto is, “When in doubt, don’t!” Parents, these are gentle souls — and should be shielded from harsh criticism and ridicule. Also, parents need to make sure children with this toddler personality type aren’t rushed into getting dressed or sitting on Santa’s lap.

The Spirited or Wild Child: About one in 10 toddlers is a strong-willed, challenging kid, experts say. These roller-coaster kids have high highs and low lows. Parents usually know they have a spirited child because they’re the ‘more’ kids.” More active. More impatient. More impulsive. More defiant. More intense. More sensitive. More rigid. The best recommendation to parents with this toddler personality type: Keep them active. Get them outside to play — a lot. These kids need to burn off their energy and work through their moods, experts say. They also need firm structure to keep them safe and stable — and lots of patience.

Of course, no child is contained within one toddler personality type, but these three types can be a helpful guide on how to interact. And I must add that on the good days my neighbor calls her toddlers little darlings and she tells me all of the impressive and sweet things they are doing.

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