Can you change your baby's character? Here's what parents should know

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Nobody knows for sure exactly what shapes your child's character. What we do know, however, is that certain traits are formed even before she arrives in this world.

For example, some mums-to-be report that their baby is very active in the womb, and this often matches the little one's activity level in the early years of life. In other words, her personality starts developing in the womb, even before you set eyes on her.

Yet there is no doubt that after the birth, how you respond to her also plays a part. The more parents smile and show positive affection to their baby, the more likely she is to be responsive and happy.

Here are suggestions on how you can have a direct influence on your baby's character.

1. Work on her strengths

She has some qualities that you approve of (for instance, she is loving, gentle and cooperative); and others that you disapprove of (she is stubborn and easily upset). Praise her when she behaves in a way that you like - this will encourage her to behave in the same way.

In addition, try to find opportunities for her to use her negative traits in positive ways.

For instance, stubbornness is good when a one-year-old is so determined to complete a puzzle toy that she refuses to give up.

2. Encourage new traits

If your little one cries whenever she sees a dog, you may be tempted to prevent her from coming into contact with one.

While that reduces the tense moments you have with her, it also reinforces her behaviour and does nothing to shape it.

On the other hand, you can improve her resilience by encouraging her to become familiar with dogs. She will gradually be less concerned and more relaxed.

3. Value her individuality

Remember that she is a very special person, with her own unique character. That's what makes her who she is.

Excessive pressure to develop particular personality traits - even if these qualities may be extremely desirable - can make her feel insecure and unhappy.

She needs to feel valued as an individual. So, take a measured approach if you try to shape her personality.

This article was first published in Young Parents