As much as you may wish there was an instructional pamphlet on parenting or a crystal ball to assure you that your child will turn out OK, those things remain in the world of fantasy. It's completely normal to wonder about the ways you might be influencing the outcome of your little one's personality. So you'll probably be happy to know that researchers, psychologists, and scientific studies have shown there are plenty of things you do every day that'll make your baby less angry later in life. It's not exactly a crystal ball, but it's about as close as you can get to one.
In the first few months of my son's life — and my new life as a parent — I couldn't help but worry about every little thing I did and whether or not it was going to negatively affect him. How much television is too much? Is my mom right about spoiling a child with too much affection? Aside from learning to cut myself a little slack, I've also found that most, if not all, of my parent friends shared those same concerns. So if you're curious about the things you can do ever day that will make your baby less angry later in life, check these out.
1. You Boast A Little
There may be some truth to the old adage that you should lead by example. In a study published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), researcher and psychologist Dr. Jerome Kagan noted an interesting link between parents recounting family stories and their child's behavior. Kagan found that, whether it was about themselves or their family members, when parents recounted positive moments, children had more control of aggression later in life. Essentially, your inspiring words and actions can motivate your little one to follow in your footsteps through positive behavior.
2. You Focus On Effort
In the American Psychological Association's (APA) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researcher Dr. Claudia Mueller and psychology professor Dr. Carol Dweck wrote, "children praised for hard work believed it to be subject to improvement." This is in contrast to those who were praised in a way that implied the accomplishment was a result of innate ability rather than effort. Children with a mindset geared towards hard work were less likely to become angry or give up when faced with a challenge. Praising persistence, even with the little things, pays off when it comes to parenting.
3. You Don't Shame Them
A study from the University of California Los Angeles' (UCLA) which was published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrated that the use of harsh parenting to address a child's behavior results in toxic stress that can stretch into adulthood. Examples of such corrective tactics could include shaming, name-calling, and public punishment. The study further explained that, "parental warmth and affection," had the opposite effect and those children were less prone to negative, ill-tempered behavior. So if you avoid employing such severe forms of discipline, your little one stands a better chance of being less angry throughout life.
4. You Get Them Moving
You don't have to be a marathon-runner to ensure your child reaps the benefits of an active family lifestyle. Spanning roughly half a century, a study in the scientific journal BioMed Central Public Health reported that individuals who were physically active as children were more likely to have an open, flexible attitude rather than one of apprehension or moodiness. It seems a solid sense of adventure has healthy results, in both body and mind, for children well into their senior years.
5. You Give Them Attention
My mother often warned against about spoiling my son with too much affection. But according to experts, if you want your child to be less angry later in life, lavishing them with your attention is key. As psychology professor Darcia Narvaez told TIME, "responsivity is clearly linked with moral development." So what does this mean when it comes to your baby's personality? "It helps foster an agreeable personality, early conscience development, and greater prosocial behavior," Narvaez further explained. So ignore anyone who tells you not to nurture your newborn.
6. You Talk About Emotions
Sometimes, in an effort to avoid any sadness or frustration for your little one, you may be tempted to ignore the topic entirely. As it turns out, addressing uncomfortable feelings openly could be the best solution. According to Baby Center, an easy daily activity that helps navigate feelings is to have pictures of people demonstrating emotional expressions for your baby to identify the various emotions. They can do this by pointing if they are pre-verbal. Taking away the taboo factor surrounding negative experiences like anger or depression will help them know how to handle them later on in life.
7. You're Present
No matter how old your baby is, the consistency of your parental presence makes a difference. Research published in the Merril Palmer Quarterly from Wayne State University showed that being present, "gives children feelings of security, control, and trust." How does this develop from infancy to adulthood? They were less likely to be, "demanding, stubborn, coercive," and more likely to have traits of, "agreeableness, emotional stability, and conscientiousness," the study further stated. Simply showing up and being their on a daily basis truly does do wonders for a child's emotional well-being.