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Set "Personality-Appropriate" Expectations for Your Child

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It's a Deadly Combo

Tales from the Parent Zone

Annie's good pal Alonza is a great, zesty kid-social, high-energy, bossy, and always covered in mud. Her mom is retiring, generally calm, and very respectful of Alonza. “She is who she is,” Saill says. “If I was to try and make her completely obedient, quiet, and timid, Alonza would spend a lot of unhappy years. It's my job to help her be the best 'Alonza' she can be. Even if I wanted to, I can't make her into somebody like me.” Saill is a wise mother, working with instead of against her daughter's temperament.

How does your child's temperament differ from your own? Two kids from the same family can have completely different temperamental traits, and both of them may be utterly different from you.

When you compare your temperamental traits with those of your child, you'll probably find some areas where you're two peas in a pod, and others where you could be aliens from different planets, you think that differently. If you have a child whose temperament is very different from yours, take solace. Nothing is wrong with your child. You are not inadequate as a parent. You simply are very different people, and there are lots of ways of being in this world.

Say you're quiet and deliberate and your son is high-energy and impulsive. Or you're highly emotional and your daughter makes ice cream seem scalding. Some combinations of kids and adults mesh better than other combinations-and it's not always tied to genetics. Understanding the differences between you and your child's temperamental approach can be a big help in figuring out your relationship, your expectations for your child, and what you can do to help him achieve success.

Temperament: Take a Positive Approach

If your house is filled with tension because of the constant fights with Augustino to get him to clean his room (“He lives like a pig!”), take a moment to reassess. He may not be as environmentally sensitive as you are. Maybe he's having trouble prioritizing tasks, and he's just not getting around to the room. Maybe try a new tactic.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to a Well-Behaved Child © 1999 by Ericka Lutz. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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