Trait Spotting from an early age

Working with babies and new mums for ten years at Babyblooms, it still never ceases to amaze me how nature and nurture plays it's part on crafting our personalities and how our traits can be evident as early as the baby stage.

Whilst relaxing on holidays this summer (seems a long time ago now!) I took delight in surreptitiously (from behind my book and sunglasses) observing the interactions between a young Mum and her two young sons. One was intent on leaping into the pool from all available surfaces each time assuming the persona of a different super hero, whilst the other son was quietly lining up a row of toy cars across the width of the footpath.

I confess I enjoyed a smug moment relishing the fact that I am past that stage, and chuckled internally as the mischievous duo in front of me continued their antics. I also felt tremendous empathy for the mum, as I vividly remembered my pool side holidays with young boys, navigating their behaviour whilst being acutely aware of everyone around me watching my parenting style.

I only became distracted when my eldest teenage son appeared at the edge of my peripheral vision, schmoozing around the pool at the centre of a newly acquired group of friends, laughing and joking with them as easily and comfortably as if they were life-long buddies whilst nestled beside my younger teenage son remained hidden under a towel playing his Nintendo DS.

I am constantly surprised by how different my children are from each other considering they have been brought up under the same roof with similar experiences and influences. Watching the young duo at the poolside reminded me of my boys when they were younger and led me to ponder on their different character traits and my fascination with the influences of nature and nurture. Remembering what they were like as babies and little ones, not so much has really changed over the years.

The eldest son was the defiant toddler who would run in every direction except the one the rest of the family were heading and still now thinks nothing of negotiating public transport and travelling the country alone. He would ingratiate himself on other families at picnics, favouring the contents of their tupperware over anything I had prepared and had no hesitancy in joining in with any games or sports that were happening. This is the same boy that reassures me that "strangers are just friends you haven't met yet".

The youngest child who would never accept the first answer without questioning (relentlessly) now studies Philosophy. The boy whose toy cars had to be lined according to size and type is the one whose room is tidy and ordered. Even a taste for fashion and a sense of occasion was evident in the very early stages when he loved dressing up in fancy dress or for special moments and still frets now as to whether he has the right shirt for the occasion.

I do believe when our babies are born they are who they are. The personality traits of my boys were evident as babies, toddlers, youngsters and now teens. Yes, we influence them with how we parent and the experiences they have within their home and schooling environment yet the fundamental personalities of my boys remain the same. In hindsight, there are really no surprises and I do believe we can all do some trait spotting from the very start.