In college, I remember taking a course required for my psychology degree about the theories of personality. I found it so interesting because while people are so similar in a lot of ways, personalities can be so drastically different, opposite even, and yet still have things in common. And kids are so great at exemplifying that. Despite their differences, kids can easily make friends with all kinds of different people. So if you're wondering what you're child will be like as an adult, there are some personality traits that your 5-year-old will probably have forever. I checked in with expert Dr. Fran Walfish, a Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist and author of the book, The Self-Aware Parent, to see what personality traits are likely to stay.
Personality is fascinating and there are many different theories out there, but one of the most popular models is the The Big Five personality traits, known as OCEAN. "OCEAN is an acronym that stands for Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism," Walfish says.
Openness refers to openness to experience. For example, is your child intellectually curious, imaginative and independent or creative? Or are they more consistently closed-minded and cautious? Conscientiousness refers to a child being more organized and efficient or more laid-back and careless. Level of extraversion tells us whether a person is more outgoing and energetic, or solitary and reserved. Agreeableness represents a person's level of compassion and friendliness versus someone with low agreeableness, which would be more detached and have a more challenging personality. And finally neuroticism refers to how sensitive and nervous someone may be, or confident and secure. So these are the traits that your child are likely born with and will carry with them throughout their life. Dr. Walfish says, "Children come into the world immediately showing the personality traits," making our kids completely unique right from the beginning.
As parents, we all know that boundaries and consistency are important for kids. But Dr. Walfish really hones in on it. "Without boundaries, consequences, realistic expectations, [or] any structure or protocol for appropriate behavior, kids grow up and emerge with poor emotion regulation, rebellious and defiant when desires are challenged, low persistence to challenging tasks, and engage in antisocial behaviors."
But if your child shows personality traits that bring them (or you) challenges, is change possible? "Change is possible," according to Walfish. "Much has been speculated and written about what is required in order to make change. One thing I know for sure: motivation and determination are prerequisites, and pain is usually the greatest motivator for change." But parenting has a lot to do with it, too.
No matter what though, here are five personality traits your 5-year-old exhibits that are here to stay.