The big five traits that kids develop in the first 10 years of their life - psychotherapist reveals the most powerful thing that impacts their personality as they grow up

Watching a child's personality blossom often brings both delight and confusion - but expert insight can shed a light on exactly what's going on

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Recent research into personality development has shone a light on the big five traits that kids will develop in the first 10 years of their life but scientific language and cross-study findings can be hard to properly understand.  Luckily, a psychotherapist has broken down the research and explained everything parents need to know. 

When we talk about childhood development, whether it's parents wanting to know about the early stages of a child's development, the mid years of development, or are looking to take a sneak peek at what's in store as your child hits the teenage years, we're wondering about bodily changes like adrenarche, puberty, and the tangible brain development kids experience as they learn things like communication skills. 

But what about a child's personality? While the development of personalities was long ignored by science, recent years have seen a great increase in research on the topic with studies even revealing that your child is more likely have the temperament of a 'random stranger' than your own. 

Research specifically into the first ten years of a child's life has now uncovered the 'big five traits' kids will develop before their tenth birthday - and the weighting of each trait can massively affect a child's developing personality. 

As explained by psychotherapist Helena R. Slobodskaya in her paper Personality development from early childhood through adolescence, the five traits are; 

1. Extraversion, which describes how outgoing and energetic a person is.

2. Neuroticism, or how anxious, worried and nervous a child is. 

3. Agreeableness, describing how a child gets along with others. 

4. Conscientiousness, how well organised and careful a child is. 

5. Openness, both to experiences and creativity and imagination. 

Slobodskaya explains that while all children develop these traits, they do so at varying levels. So, one child may develop a lot of extraversion while another develops a lot of openness. The development of these traits will carry forward, moulding the personality of the adult your child will grow up to be. 

But this development is not habitual. Instead, it's impacted mostly by the child's experiences growing up. Or, as the expert explains, traits result from 'the dynamic interaction between person and environment.' Therefore, if a child goes on lots of family days out with their parents who schedule in fun things to do with kids, they're more likely to be more extraverted as they grow up. 

Similarly, if parents put a strong emphasis on being kind to people, teaching kids emotional intelligence when they're young so they can connect with and understand people, they're more likely to develop stronger agreeableness traits and get along better with others. 

The research shows that there's little difference between girls and boys when it comes to the traits they develop, with each being just as likely to develop more or less of any trait depending on how they were parented. 

With it laid out like that, which traits has your little one picked up the most? 

In other family news, eight-year-olds are the ‘easiest’ kids to parent according to the internet, but what do experts think? Plus, teens ‘transmit’ mental health disorders in the classroom, according to research and scientists are baffled. And, parenting and marriage is 'harder' than ever before - an expert shares her top 3 tips for navigating your relationship as parents

News writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is a news writer for Goodtoknow, specialising in family content. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.