You might have to use different discipline strategies for each child.

How to Discipline Your Children According to Their Personality

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

“Andy, can you beat your time for room cleaning today?” “Set the clock; here I go!” Knowing what works and doesn’t work with your preschooler’s personality can often instill enthusiastic cooperation rather than sullen acquiescence. It certainly makes your parenting job much more pleasant and reduces your stress. No matter what your child’s personality type, you can work it to train and disciple him right. You might even find the strategies that work with your child also work with your partner.

Determine your child’s personality type. For example, lions are strong-willed, decisive, argumentative, willing to tackle a challenge, driven to accomplish, love to be in charge and prefer to see quick results. They like feeling in control and may be so convinced their solution is right that they never stop to think they could be wrong or that others might not agree their way is best. Otters are all about fun, and if you can find a way to make what you want her to do fun, she will be all over it, but don’t expect her to take much in life too seriously. She could motivate Alaskans to buy ice in the winter and work with the devil to get it delivered. She forgets the details and hides when her impulsiveness causes a problem. Your otter acts before she thinks, and it gets her in trouble. Your beaver reigns in his emotions, likes to think things through, examine the details, take the safe and predictable path and do things right the first time. Happy-go-lucky golden retrievers love to please and take life easy. They don’t like to rock the boat and are loyal to a fault. Your preschool golden retriever has tender feelings, a heart of compassion, and a desire for peace. She can be surprisingly stubborn and resistant to change.

Determine what motivates your child to do right and what helps her see the error of her ways. Allow the lion child to take charge. Make chores into a game for your otter. Break tasks into manageable steps for your beaver and tell your golden retriever what would make you happy. If your lion doesn’t agree with your direction, be prepared for an argument until she sees your way is best, and then she will probably quickly comply. Help your otter see how her impulsiveness got her into trouble.

Consistently use strategies that work with your child’s personality. Don’t expect your lion to suddenly become a peaceful golden retriever or ask your fun loving, impulsive otter to take time to analyze things like a beaver. It won’t happen! Appreciate your child’s personality strengths and work with the weaknesses to celebrate the uniqueness that is your child.


  • The Two Sides of Love; Gary Smalley and John Trent
  • The Key to Your Child’s Heart; Dr. Gary Smalley

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images