Child character – genetic or learned?

Ever since the Littleguy was born I started wondering whether child character and personality are genetically embedded or whether they can be learned and, hence, shaped by us – parents.

The Bigguy and the Littleguy are completely different. The former is quiet, self-conscious, a perfectionist and loves to be out. The latter is the exact opposite – loud and self-confident, never gives up and rarely gets upset and prefers to stay home whenever he can. So what’s up with child character here? We’re being the same parents for both of them. They have the same toys and life in the same house, with the same set of rules.

Although I’m not a psychologist and I certainly can’t dwell on what causes what sorts of behaviour one seems obvious to me – my character, the character of a grown-up, is certainly a mix of genetically embedded features, traits implied on my be the way I was raised and a set of rules which I impose upon myself. With a child character I would assume that the last thing – self-control and self change to character – will probably not be much of an issue as they’re probably too young to really think about the way they behave.

The character differences are a handful for the parents. A typical situation: lack of self-confidence of the Bigguy. What can be done? A variety of things, of course, but the most eminent thing is just to assure him that he’s doing well at whatever he believes to be failing. And that can be about anything, starting with a game, an attempt to get dressed on his own or anything else. So we praise on how well he’s doing.

But what about the Littleguy then? He’s obviously there, watching and listening to the whole thing. On one hand – I worry that he might get the impression that he is not as great and not doing quite as well (especially that this is generally true as he’s substantially younger). On the other hand, if he get’s his share of praise just to make it fair – he may eventually become really full of himself because at present he really knows himself just how great he is.

Getting back to the child character thing – I guess the questions I’m asking is should we worry? If character is genetic then there’s not much we can do anyway. We won’t be able to help the Bigguy but, at the same time, we may just as well try as it will certainly not damage the Littleguy. Right? Right. Or is it?

But then, can one, as a parent, really watch unfavorable character traits just develop? I know what it’s like to be self-conscious and lack self-confidence. I’ve been there myself (which is probably where the Bigguy got it from) and am fighting it up to this date. I would prefer to save him from that experience, at least to a certain extend. But is it possible? And can I do it without harming the Littleguy in any way?

OK, my post gives absolutely no answers, just a bunch of questions. Perhaps you have your own thoughts on child character? Let me know, I’m curious.

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