I recently read an article in "Live Science" that claims personalities are set by age 7. This made me stop and think.
And by think, I mean panic.
I have an 8-year-old who is apparently set in her ways. There will be no changing her. And a 6-year-old that will be 7 in a month! She’s counting down the days till her birthday with mounting excitement, and I’m suddenly ticking off all the things I should fix before she reaches that no-turning-back deadline.
She’s the most stubborn child I’ve ever met. She’s hot-tempered with a flair for the dramatic. She cries more than I know what to do with, and refuses to back down — even when she’s obviously wrong. As her mom, I’m wondering if she could use a little tweaking. If this is the personality she’s going to carry into adulthood, maybe I should modify a few things to maximize her potential for success.
But I only have 30 days left to fix her.
Except maybe it’s not my job to fix her. Maybe we’re not counting down to her seventh birthday like it’s a looming, non-negotiable deadline. Maybe instead, we’ve been working toward this day since the moment she was born.
I’ll be honest with you and say that I don’t think there was a thing I could have done to revise her personality in the entire time I’ve been her parent. There are, of course, behavioral issues I believe I have control over. I can teach her manners and how to respect others. I can show her how to be kind and thankful. I can make sure she learns to listen and obey. I can be there when she doesn’t do these things and step in when I see behavior I don’t like.
But as far as personality? I can only influence. She was born willful. She came out of the womb screaming at the top of her lungs and didn’t stop until she got what she wanted. She’s still like that. It’s daunting at times. Frustrating. Even maddening. But that doesn’t mean I want to change her.
As her mother, I want to teach her the best way to get what she wants — not punish her for wanting something. My goal is not perfect children but successful adults.
Her personality isn’t wrong. In fact, it’s exactly right because it’s hers. It’s just one of the many beautiful things that define her. That make her who she is.
Stubborn can be matured into driven. Hot-tempered can be redirected into passion. Waterworks means she feels things deeper than most. Empathy can be her strength. And never backing down? I hope she never backs down when she believes in something.
My prayer is that when she leaves my care she knows what she wants and has the tools she needs to get it. CEO of a huge corporation? Go for it. A successful artist? She has my blessing. Future female president? It’s her aspiration right now and I’m not going to stand in her way!
Personalities are our gift to the world. No two children are alike and that is something to celebrate! They might never be perfect, but we get the opportunity to help them become the best versions of themselves. So bring on the seventh birthday! We’re ready for it.
Rachel Higginson, a married mom to four kids between the ages of 3 and 9, wrote this guest piece for momaha.com. She lives in Omaha. Higginson is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller who has received a Utopia Award for Best Contemporary Romance and Penned Con Award for Best Novella Series. To read more from Higginson, click here.