Know your child
Do you really see your child as an individual?
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Children have the right to be themselves and to live well-adapted and happy lives, whatever their special qualities and interests. They don’t have to believe the same things or feel the same way to fit into a tight stereotypical way of being. But do you really see your child as an individual, not just an extension of you and your family?

Treasuring his uniqueness and getting him to believe in himself and then still fit into the family’s wants and needs, is a juggling act.

What shapes your child?
1. The family and its values and beliefs and attitude towards children.
2. The neighborhood and school
3. The culture
4. General situations and circumstances
5. Genetics and internal influence which includes temperament: the inborn tendency to behave in certain ways.

All of these factors together have an interactive influence on the personality and character of your child. Temperament tells us how receptive a girl is and how her experience is absorbed internally. These are the 'seeds' of your girl’s character and you probably noticed them from her first year of life.

Some of the things that make us who we are
• Physical energy levels
• A liking for routine or for the unpredicatable
• Actively participation in events, or a tendency to be the observer
• Adaptability to different environments
• How we respond to things: are we loud or calm?
• Awareness of what’s going on around us
• Optomistic versus pessimistic as a general rule
• Ability to concentrate or be distracted

Character is that part of a child we hope to develop and train, without changing the essence of who he or she is. Having a strong character helps a child balance inner desires or wants with the requirements of the environment.

Building blocks of character:
1. Resiliency which is about: control, commitment, connection and flexibility.
2. Strength which often comes from being competent.
3. Respect for others, responsibility, perseverance.

Megan de Beyer has a Masters degree in Psychology. She practised in both Cape Town and Durban and has run many successful parenting workshops at high schools.

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