If you have a toddler, then you know that their personality can swing from one extreme to the next in a matter of seconds. You know that Sour Patch Kids tagline, ‘First they’re sour, then they’re sweet?” You can’t tell us that isn’t really about toddlers. These little humans pack quite the punch! These are such formative years, where they’re sort of testing the waters and stretching their newly independent little legs before settling on the first of many personality hats they’ll wear throughout their childhood (and beyond!). Now, as the parent of a toddler, you’ll be able to nail down your own kid’s personality pretty accurately. Whether or not you’ll be able to weather it is a story for another day.
But once your kid ventures out into the world, like daycare or preschool, you’re both going to be inundated with a variety of toddler personality types that might be totally new to you. Now, we’re not trying to generalize here, but in our experience, regardless of where your kid goes to preschool, they’re going to encounter one of these versions of our favorite human Sour Patch Kids. Chances are, they’ll vibe with most of them, because toddlers are just cool like that. But just in case you’re wondering what to expect from the toddler social club, this might help.
Preschool can be a bit overwhelming for little humans, so it’s entirely likely that there will be more than a few Wallflowers in your kid’s class. Wallflower plays their cards close to their vest, preferring to watch from the wings before finally taking the plunge and inserting themselves into the fray. Or, they may take some time to figure out where they fit in the class social circle. Wallflower isn’t antisocial—far from it. If your toddler meanders over with an extra toy during free time, chances are they’ll make a lifelong friend. Wallflower is playing chess while everyone else is barreling through their fourth game of checkers, so approaching them takes strategy.
The Social Butterfly
If Wallflower is a chess master, then Social Butterfly is the team captain leading the huddle chant before the game starts. SB is everywhere, all at once. They’ve got a doll involved in a cosplay of family while also helping design an architecturally sound block castle and directing the lunch convo over apple slices and milk cartons, all at the same time. If Social Butterfly could read, they would hand out business cards with their handle on all the hottest socials. Your toddler may be simultaneously excited and exhausted by SB—both are acceptable responses.
Toddlers are the emotional equivalent of shaking a bottle of soda and then unscrewing the cap. There is a lot going on in those little hearts and brains, and sometimes their emotions get the best of them. While some kiddos are able to self-regulate their emotions fairly easily, others tend to just ride the wave as far as it takes them. The Emoter rolls their eyes at the idea of self-regulation. They are all emotion, all the time. They’re not happy, they’re the most ecstatic they’ve ever been. They’re not sad, they are experiencing an existential crisis the likes of which you cannot begin to appreciate. They’re not mad, they will burn this entire town down and use the smoldering remains to make a charcoal art piece. Emoter may be too hot to handle for a lot of kids, but they tend to jibe well with Wallflower. Opposites attract and all that jazz.
We’re not sure who clued Overachiever in on the value of gold stars during circle time, but they live and breathe trying to collect as many kudos as possible. Overachiever never needs to be told twice that it’s time to clean up; by the time the teacher has finally gotten the class’s attention to begin the redirection, Overachiever is already putting the last block away. If their name isn’t at the top of the behavior chart every single day, what’s the point of even going to preschool?! Overachiever is likable and gets along with everyone, but tends to stick to themselves so as to never have to share their glory.
The Influencer is the Regina George of the preschool crowd, although (usually) nicer. It’s weird to think that a toddler could have their finger on the pulse of what’s in and what’s out, but Influencer is in the know. They’ll come to school wearing a bandanna around their neck, and then suddenly your kid is asking for a bandanna. Influencer decides that they no longer like string cheese, so no one in the class likes string cheese. When Influencer learns a cool new word, guess what word you’ll be hearing at home nonstop until the next big thing comes along? Unsurprisingly, Influencer and Social Butterfly will usually find one another and form an almost symbiotic relationship within the toddler social dynamic. You just know that those two will be responsible for the kind of epic ragers in high school and beyond that turn into adolescent lore.
No matter what kiddo you have under your roof, you’re in for a wild ride when it comes to toddlerhood. Wondering what type of parent you are, or that you’re going to encounter in the pickup line? Find out here.