Preschool Personalities, Part 2 – Choleric, Who’s the Boss?


My oldest son is choleric and looking back, he was a preschooler on a mission: giving us dinosaur lessons while tumbling between explanations, going off the high-dive at two years of age, and toddling up to restaurant counters (by himself) to get the necessary carry-home containers for our uneaten food. In addition to his fearless and practical approach to life, he was rarely influenced by his tiny tot peers . . . classic traits of the choleric personality. It is amazing how early a child’s temperament manifests itself.

Preschool Practicality

Several years ago I taught preschool children – 18 months going on two years. I’ll never forget Choleric Caroline. I had not yet learned about personalities, but even then, there was no mistaking that this tiny tot was mission minded. I am confident that if I ever needed a substitute teacher Caroline could have run my class for a day.

When I lined up my six little cherubs to go outside to the playground I had a set ritual for going through doors and walking through the halls so that none of my tots would get “get away” during transit. However, every once in a while, with diapers swishing, a free spirit would make a break and run away. I never had to worry, though, because Caroline always chased the running rebels down and physically brought them back to our little group telling them to STAY.

Who’s the Boss?

A choleric person needs control. That is just the way they are made. These little people tend to start early trying to control any authority figure standing between them and their desires. It is important to not to let them become the boss. I don’t remember having trouble with this when my choleric son was preschool age, but early in his elementary-school career he told the lunch lady off. Although I understand why he and the other children hated lunch, I made sure he understood that getting in any adult’s face was inappropriate. A choleric starts early thinking their way is superior and they do not have a problem letting the world know. I’ve worked many years polishing this part of my choleric son’s personality. If you have a young choleric in your life you may find yourself with a child who challenges authority. It is important to channel this powerful personality properly.

Strategies for Choleric Preschoolers

  • Understand they have a natural need for control. Find age-appropriate things you can put your preschooler in charge of. Seat belt patrol allows them to make sure everyone is buckled up when driving around town as well as filling their need to be in charge of something. Let them, within reason, choose their clothes for the day or help prepare daily meals.
  • Choleric personalities of any age tend to make “demands” instead of “asking”. Start early training your choleric tot to use a softer voice than tends to come naturally for him or her.
  • Do not let them think they are the boss or you may find yourself dealing with a tyrant teen in a few years. Do not squish their natural ability to lead, but be creative channeling it in a positive way. Again, anything that allows them to take charge in an age-appropriate way is great. Think about an activity or hobby that will properly channel a powerful preschooler.
  • If you are a sanguine or phlegmatic parent/guardian be careful you do not allow a choleric child to run you over or be disrespectful. You need to  develop the firm touch this type of child needs to grow into an effective leader and not a dictator who turns people into doormats.

Looking back at some of the choleric preschoolers I’ve encountered, they really made me smile. They are ready to tackle any toy, any tot, or any mission that causes others youngsters to cower. They are intense and can be intensely frustrating when they decide things must go their way. As with all children, they need patience and that patience is easier to muster when you understand the inner workings of this mission-minded child.

©2012 Shona Neff

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