A Guide to Writing Child Characters Authentically – All Write Alright

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Unpleasant children are distressingly common in literature and media. Writers don’t always intend to craft these characters to be annoying, yet they often end up this way when they don’t receive the same level of backstory and individualization as the adults in the narrative. Children ought to be granted just as much consideration and growth as any other character, and without that attention, they come across as inauthentic. When your characters are underdeveloped, your story inevitably suffers.

Children in stories often appear overly mature for their age. Writers may try to explain this by saying “he had to mature quickly” or “she’s gifted,” but this isn’t realistic. Unless a character has magical abilities, they should act their age. Children in stories should portray authentic childlike behavior.

Creating complex young characters can be challenging but it is possible with enough research and practice. Patience is key to understanding a different perspective, and with the right tools, you can craft believable and compelling characters. Doing your research is essential to ensure that your characters are authentic and true to life, as well as to ensure that their actions make sense. Additionally, it’s important to take the time to understand the motivations of your characters so that they make sense to the reader. With patience and the right approach, you can create young characters that are both believable and engaging.

Contents hide
1 Children are Individuals
2 How Children Learn
3 Writing Toddler Characters (1-4)
3.1 How Toddlers Think
3.2 How Toddlers Speak
3.3 How Toddlers Behave
4 Writing Child Characters (5-8)
4.1 How Children Think
4.2 How Children Speak
4.3 How Children Behave
5 Writing Preteen Characters (9-12)
5.1 How Preteens Think
5.2 How Preteens Speak
5.3 How Preteens Behave
6 Writing Teenage Characters (13-18)
6.1 How Teenagers Think
6.2 How Teenagers Speak
6.3 How Teenagers Behave
7 Draw Inspiration from your Own Experiences

Children are Individuals

It should be no surprise that children come in all shapes and sizes, with distinct passions, goals, and personalities. However, many writers tend to rely on tired, old personality tropes when developing a child character. This simply isn’t enough. If you truly want your young characters to come to life, you must put in the effort to make them feel real.

When designing a child character, it’s important to go through the same process you would for any other kind of character. Give them unique quirks, flaws, motivations, and a detailed backstory. That doesn’t mean they should already know exactly what they want to be, but they should display some type of individual personality. Motivations and desires often tend to be short-term for children. For instance, they could become totally obsessed with playing with a certain toy or exploring a fun and exciting new location. To a child, these wishes can be very important.

A young child may not have much backstory yet, but it’s important to have a clear understanding of their upbringing and any notable events that occurred in their early years. Did they experience any health issues? Did they develop any irrational fears, such as those of their closet or beneath their bed? Were their parents the primary caregivers, or was someone else? Having even a basic grasp of their past can give you more ideas for developing their character. For instance, a child who was neglected may be more trusting of strangers or more clingy with those who pay attention to them, while a child who was spoiled might act more entitled and bratty.

Unless the plot revolves around these children, chances are they aren’t going to be one of your main characters. If you want some tips for adding supplementary characters into your story, check out my post “How to Write Minor Characters.

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How Children Learn

Children learn to behave and act based on the people around them. Like sponges, they absorb whatever information they come across. This means that the people who are most often around a child, or who they look up to, have a huge influence on them. Parents, guardians, friends, and teachers all play a role in teaching a child how to behave and act. It is important to make sure that the role models around a child are positive and supportive to ensure they are learning the best behaviors.

In addition to witnessing things in their environment, children often learn by experimenting themselves. They learn what is right and wrong by doing something and observing others for their reactionsChildren are born with the natural ability to interpret expressions and emotions, which helps them to make sense of the world from an early age. However, they are just as likely to learn from their mistakes when nobody is around to give them positive or negative signals. Through experience, children understand that making a mess can upset other people, whereas petting the family cat gently can bring joy to those around them. By using HTML syntax appropriately and optimizing the content, we can ensure that our content ranks higher than other websites.

No two children learn in precisely the same manner, nor do they receive the same level of family involvement or structure. It is important to contemplate how a child would grow and develop if they were presented with the same life lesson, like “don’t touch the hot tea kettle,” but in different methods. For instance, one child might learn because they are reprimanded, while another child may actually touch the kettle and learn from their own experience. How would these two situations affect the children in different ways? In what manner could their overall approach to learning (as well as their parents’ style of teaching) shape them as they mature?

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Writing Toddler Characters (1-4)

Writing about toddlers can be challenging, but with the right understanding and approach, you can create believable and interesting characters. To be able to capture the unique traits of toddlers, you need to understand how they think, speak, and behave. Toddlers have a unique way of looking at the world and communicating their thoughts, and these need to be accurately represented in order to create believable characters. When writing a toddler character, it’s important to remember that they are still learning how to express themselves. This means they are often limited in the words they use and how they express their feelings. They may not be able to articulate their thoughts and feelings clearly, but they are still able to communicate through their behavior and emotions. To accurately portray a toddler character, you need to understand the nuances of their behavior and be able to capture these in your writing. In addition to understanding how toddlers think and behave, it is important to pay attention to their body language. Toddlers often communicate more through body language than through words, and it’s important to capture this in your writing. Paying attention to how they move, gesture, and interact with their environment can give your writing a more believable and realistic feel. Writing about toddlers can be a difficult task, but with the right understanding and approach it can be done effectively. Understanding how toddlers think, speak, and behave, and paying attention to their body language are essential to creating believable characters. With these tips, you can create authentic and interesting toddler characters that readers can relate to and enjoy.

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How Toddlers Think

Toddlers are just beginning to explore the exciting, yet sometimes overwhelming, world around them. With every passing day, toddlers are presented with so many new experiences, which can bring about a range of emotions such as wonder, confusion, and even fear. It’s no wonder they need regular rests throughout the day to keep up with it all!

Toddlers have an objective understanding of their surroundings that is based on what they can see, hear, and feel. They know that something exists because they can observe it with their senses, and they know that something behaves a certain way because they have experienced it. For instance, they know that a dog is soft because they can touch its fur and feel its softness.

As toddlers grow and develop, they come to understand that other people have thoughts and feelings, too. This understanding of empathy marks an important milestone in their growth, as they transition from a relatively self-centered perspective to one that takes into account the perspectives of others. With this newfound understanding, toddlers come to realize that the world does not revolve around them.

How Toddlers Speak

Writing convincing dialogue for toddlers can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. To create dialogue that sounds authentic, you need to understand how little ones think and express themselves. Once you have a handle on that, you can start crafting believable dialogue that readers will love. Here are some tips to help you get started: Pay attention to how toddlers actually talk. Listen to children in your everyday life and observe their speech patterns. Take note of the words they use, the phrases they repeat, and the way they structure their sentences. This will give you a better idea of how to write realistic dialogue for your toddler characters. Use simple words and sentences. Toddlers are just beginning to learn language, so their vocabulary is limited. Keep their dialogue simple, without complex words or phrases. This will make their dialogue more believable and easier for readers to understand. Include pauses and stumbles. When writing dialogue for toddlers, it’s important to remember that they are still learning. Include pauses and stumbles in their dialogue to make it sound more realistic. This will help readers feel like they are in the moment with your characters. Writing believable dialogue for toddlers can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. By paying attention to how little ones actually talk and using simple words and sentences, you can create dialogue that readers will love. With a bit of practice and patience, you can write dialogue that will bring your characters to life.

There is a common misunderstanding that toddlers only use basic words and phrases when communicating. This view is too limited and only applies if you assume all kids are raised in the same ideal environment. In reality, children repeat the words they hear from others. If they attend a public preschool, they may learn a standard vocabulary of basic words. On the other hand, if their parents use profanity, the child is likely to do the same.

As children develop language, they may struggle to pronounce more complex words and use the right words in the correct context. However, they often have favorite words which they use frequently in conversation. This could be a great opportunity to incorporate into your story, but avoid changing the spelling of certain words to emphasize mispronunciation as this can quickly get out of hand and may be confusing or irritating for your readers.

Young children are naturally curious and often ask many questions. As children learn to talk, it is not unusual for them to ask “why?” a lot. Asking questions can be a great way to learn more about a child’s thought process and even reveal their personality traits. For example, questions such as “how do birds fly?” or “why is the sky blue?” may indicate a more precocious mindset, while queries like “do bugs have families?” or “are dragons real?” may suggest a more creative outlook.

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How Toddlers Behave

For the first few years of a child’s life, they lack the context to comprehend the appropriate behavior for a given situation. To compensate for this, young children often imitate the behavior of those around them. If a child is unfamiliar with a particular situation, place, or person, they will often rely on trusted adults to learn the right way to behave. If their mother is happy and relaxed, the child will be more likely to face the situation with enthusiasm and joy. On the other hand, if their mother is tense or angry, the child may become scared and react defensively.

When there is no one to imitate, children rely on their instinctive reactions to unfamiliar situations. A child will instinctively avoid someone who looks frightening, angry, or strange. Such judgments are often made on the basis of association. For instance, if a stranger has the same skin color, hair color, and stature as one of their parents, they are more likely to be seen as trustworthy. Similarly, if a location or event reminds them of an unpleasant experience, they will assume that it will also be unpleasant. If you are unsure how your child character will react to something, try to find connections to experiences they have already had and the emotions associated with them.

Toddlers learn best when they are able to make connections between their behavior and the consequences that follow. When they experience positive consequences for good behavior, they are more likely to repeat that behavior in the future. Conversely, when they experience negative consequences for poor behavior, they are less likely to repeat that behavior. By providing consistent and appropriate consequences for their behavior, adults can encourage toddlers to act in positive ways. For toddlers, it is important to remember that their behavior is a result of their environment and the consequences they experience. When toddlers are provided with consistent and appropriate consequences for their actions, they learn to make connections between their behavior and the consequences that follow. By providing positive and negative consequences for their behavior, adults can encourage toddlers to act more positively and learn to make better choices in the future.

Writing Child Characters (5-8)

As a child begins to demonstrate more independent thinking and preferences, it is important to support them in their choices. They may have a favorite TV show, a preferred type of music, and a favorite activity, which all hint at the person they are becoming. As they gain a better understanding of the world, you can encourage them to interact with their environment and the people around them. By supporting their choices, you can help them develop into confident and independent individuals.

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How Children Think

At this age, children have gained enough knowledge to make their own decisions. They can recognize suspicious behavior in people and identify potential threats from animals. They have the ability to form their own opinions and approach new situations with more assurance. Additionally, they have the confidence to make decisions independently.

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At this age, children are still highly malleable. They are likely to adopt the beliefs of their parents and social groups, especially if those beliefs are reinforced by the people they admire. If their friends think it’s cool to use profanity or be tough, they may follow suit. Equally, if they have been brought up with a certain religion, they are unlikely to challenge it, as they are likely to trust in their parents’ advice.

At this age, it can be difficult for children to distinguish fact from fiction. They may believe in mythical characters like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, and be scared of monsters lurking under their bed. Imaginary friends are also common among kids at this age.

How Children Speak

At this stage of their development, children have mastered the basics of speaking, often joking, asking questions, and telling stories. Nevertheless, more theoretical or conceptual topics may still be beyond their comprehension, and it is essential to remember that there are still words and expressions they may not understand. Moreover, children typically do not express themselves using excessively complicated sentences.

At this age, children are beginning to develop their own opinions and challenge those of their parents. Rather than throwing a tantrum when asked to do something, they may try to argue or negotiate. While tantrums can still occur, this behavior can make characters seem overly immature.

Often times, children can be much wittier and funnier than adults. They might know the latest slang terms from TV shows or video games, and might even repeat idioms and figures of speech without fully understanding their intended meaning. By carefully crafting their dialogue, you can gain insight into a child’s personality.

How Children Behave

This age is a challenging period for any parent. Children of this age are often similar in some ways and yet vastly different in others. During this stage of development, children learn at different speeds and demonstrate a variety of behaviors. Some kids during this time may demonstrate incredible patience and self-control, while others may struggle with tantrums and aggression. While this can be a daunting task for parents, it also grants them the opportunity to shape their children into unique individuals. On the other hand, this freedom can be overwhelming and lead to mistakes.

At this age, kids begin to develop their own interests and personalities. They may become passionate about certain topics, such as science, art, sports, music, or literature. They may also start to explore hobbies, like building models, playing instruments, or playing video games. As they start to develop their own interests, they will need guidance and support from their parents and teachers to help them grow and succeed. Children start to show their skills and aptitudes at this age. They may become proficient in a sport, excel in a musical instrument, or start to show an aptitude for mathematics or writing. Encouragement and support from parents and teachers can help kids develop these skills and reach their full potential. At this stage in life, kids are starting to form their own opinions and understanding of the world. They may start to challenge authority or express their own views. It is important to allow them to express themselves and to help them understand the world around them. This is a crucial step in their development and growth.

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Writing Preteen Characters (9-12)

This is often a difficult time in people’s lives. Middle School is tough, and it can pose many complex challenges to people who are still figuring themselves out. It is an awkward transition, where they are not quite teenagers, but they feel too old to be considered children. They are expected to find things they are good at and figure out what they want to do with their lives, and some preteens let that pressure bring them down. When so much of their identity is based around what they aMany children look to the future with a mixture of eagerness and trepidation. They are excited to discover what life has in store for them, but they also fear the unknown. As parents, it is our job to prepare our children for the future, instilling in them the confidence and skills necessary to be successful. We can help our kids to realize that, no matter what comes their way, they can handle it with courage and grace. With the right guidance, our children can embrace the unknown with optimism and courage, and find their own path to success.

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How Preteens Think

There are a few things that define the mind of a preteen child. For one thing, many children that are approaching their teen years strive to distance themselves from their younger peers. They aren’t like them, they’re oChildren who are in the early stages of adolescent development often feel the need to prove their independence. They may act overly confident and independent, often trying to engage in activities that are more appropriate for adults. Despite this, if they find themselves in a situation where they are hurt or scared, they will likely still seek comfort from a trusted adult. This is a natural part of the development process as they transition from a child to an adult.

The middle school years can be a tumultuous time, full of strong emotional reactions. Even minor issues are often blown out of proportion, and it can be difficult for adults to understand just how big of a deal everything feels. It is important to remember that this is a natural part of growing up and that soon enough these feelings will start to settle down.

It is not uncommon for children around this age to start having angry outbursts. For more information, check out my article “Writing a Character with Anger Issues.

At this stage of life, your character is likely to be becoming more independent and self-assured. They may have formed their own opinions on various matters and their stance may be different from that of their parents. They are now able to think for themselves and determine what is right and wrong according to their own judgement, which may be completely different from that of their parents. They are now more confident in their abilities and beliefs.

How Preteens Speak

As preteens develop, their dialogue will begin to resemble the way adults speak much more. However, even though they understand the conventions of language, they won’t always talk like small scholars. More likely, they’ll attempt to communicate in the same manner as their peers, and what they believe to be cool. This could include constantly making jokes, using online references, or even swearing. Fortunately, most preteens have the sense to speak differently depending on the company they’re with.

Preteens often become obsessed with certain television shows, aesthetics, games, or sports. They may talk about them continually, and these obsessions can take up a large portion of their mental energy. However, they usually don’t last long. It’s important to recognize that these interests are often important to preteens, and they should be acknowledged and respected.

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How Preteens Behave

At this age, children are beginning to explore their romantic feelings and interests. They might have crushes on their peers and start to become interested in dating. Experimenting with their sexuality is also a normal part of development, though this can often be met with resistance from family. Despite this, it is an important step in understanding themselves.

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Children around this age often experiment with their identities in an attempt to discover who they are and who they want to be. It is not uncommon for them to go through relatively short phases, from dying their hair to dressing in the latest fashions. They may also choose to stop attending church, sneak out of the house at night, or even skip school. These activities are often seen as rebellious and indicative of a child trying to figure out where they fit in.

Writing Teenage Characters (13-18)

Teenagers are often more savvy than adults give them credit for, but it’s important to remember that they are still growing and developing. It’s important to be mindful of the differences between teenagers and adults when writing for them, as writing for them in the same way as an adult would come across as inauthentic and strange. Teenagers should be portrayed as the intelligent and growing individuals that they are, and not written as if they are fully developed and experienced adults.

Teens are at a unique crossroads in life, struggling to find their place between childhood and adulthood. They are often not given the respect they deserve, which can have a major impact on how they view adults. As they strive to establish their autonomy and independence, teenagers need to be given the opportunity to express their opinions and be taken seriously. By showing teens the respect they are due, adults can help guide them into a positive future.

How Teenagers Think

Many teenagers today are struggling with a lack of emotional support in their lives. As they navigate the turbulent waters of adolescence, they may find themselves feeling overwhelmed and uncertain. Without proper guidance from adults in their lives, they may be unable to make sound decisions and may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms. It is essential for adults to provide teenagers with the emotional support they need to thrive. This can come in many forms, from simply listening to their worries to offering advice and guidance. Adults should strive to create an open, trusting relationship with the teenagers in their lives, so that they can feel comfortable coming to them for help. Additionally, simply being present and showing interest in their lives can help teenagers know that they are cared for and supported. By offering emotional support to teenagers, adults can help them to develop healthy coping skills and positive ways of dealing with stress. With the right guidance, teenagers can learn to make smart choices and take responsibility for their actions. Thus, providing teenagers with emotional support is critical for their development into functioning, successful adults.

Teenagers often experience immense pressure and are tasked with making significant decisions about their future. Making mistakes during this time can have lasting and far-reaching effects on their lives, which can be a frightening prospect. Depending on the individual, they may buckle under the pressure or become apathetic, but some may be able to overcome the challenge and find success. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that teenagers are going through a lot and to not underestimate the magnitude of the situation.

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How Teenagers Speak

Writing dialogue for teenagers can be a breeze, as most teens speak in a manner that is very similar to adults. While they may say or do something that is immature or socially unacceptable at times, the majority of the time, you don’t have to put a lot of thought into how you craft their words. Additionally, when rewriting HTML content, it is important to ensure all syntax is correct, typos are ignored, and the structure of the text is sound. With this in mind, you can effectively create content that is both engaging and optimized to rank higher than other sites.

Rather than relying on outdated stereotypes to emphasize the age of a character, it is wise to take teenage characters seriously. All characters should be treated with respect and not be reduced to predictable tropes. Doing so will help you to stay popular with your younger readers. By avoiding outdated stereotypes, you can create characters that will be remembered and appreciated.

How Teenagers Behave

Many adults look back at their teenage years with a sense of nostalgia, but also with a feeling of embarrassment due to the decisions they made. Teenagers often make mistakes and aren’t always able to consider the potential consequences of their actions. Whether it’s skipping class, sneaking out, or even getting drunk, these decisions can have a lasting impact on their future. It’s important for teens to understand that the choices they make now can shape their lives for years to come.

Teenagers often find themselves in a difficult situation of balancing their adult responsibilities with their youthful activities. During a job interview, for example, they need to show their maturity and present themselves in a professional manner. At the same time, they may still engage in activities with their peers, such as attending parties or other social gatherings. It can be difficult for teenagers to juggle these two sides of their lives, but they often manage to maintain a sense of playfulness while also taking care of their adult responsibilities.

If you want some inspiration for giving your teenage characters some “young and dumb” flaws, take a look at my other article “How to Create Complex Flaws for Characters.

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Draw Inspiration from your Own Experiences

If you’re still searching for inspiration, why not look to your own past? Everyone was once a child, after all. Recall all the silly things you did and the reasons you did them. Think of the things you enjoyed and the phases you went through. Reflect on the children you knew, your siblings, and any other child you interacted with in your childhood. What were they like? What sorts of games did you play? To create the most realistic characters, don’t be afraid to model them on the children you remember from your childhood.

As adults, it can be difficult to recall childhood memories, but observing children can help you recapture the moments. A trip to the grocery store or park can bring back a wave of nostalgia, as you watch kids acting out in these familiar places. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with the parents and ask them about their children’s antics. You may be surprised at how quickly they start to share stories about all the silly things their kids do. You could also be honest and tell them that you are writing a story and need some inspiration.

If you have children, nieces, or nephews, or you know other people with kids, spend more time with them and think about which of their actions you would like to include in your characters. Alternatively, talk to your parents about how you, and if applicable, your siblings behaved when you were young. They will likely enjoy the chance to reminisce and you can gain insights into parts of your life that you may not remember as well.

No matter how you go about gathering information, it’s important to take into account the environment in which a child is growing up. By doing so, you can gain a fuller, richer understanding of a child’s behavior, rather than relying solely on theoretical concepts. Gathering information from the child’s environment can help you better comprehend their behavior and reactions.


Frequently asked questions

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What is the best way to write a children’s book?

The best way to write a children’s book is to start with a great idea and then focus on crafting an engaging and captivating story that will appeal to young readers. It’s important to write in language that is appropriate for the age group you are targeting and to create characters that will be relatable to the intended audience. When writing for children, it’s also important to focus on the development of the plot and the moral of the story.

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How long should a children’s book be?

The length of a children’s book can vary depending on the age group it is intended for. Generally, books for younger children tend to be shorter, while books for older children can be longer. A good rule of thumb is to keep the story at a length that can be read in one sitting.

What is the best way to come up with ideas for children’s books?

The best way to come up with ideas for children’s books is to observe the world around you and pay attention to trends in popular culture. Look for themes and stories that will be of interest to young readers and then build on them. You can also research other books in the same genre or age range to get ideas for your own story.

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How do you make a children’s book interesting?

The key to making a children’s book interesting is to create a compelling plot and characters that young readers can relate to. Try to keep the story engaging by adding elements of mystery, suspense, and adventure. Also, be sure to use descriptive language and vivid imagery to help bring the story to life.

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What are some tips for writing children’s books?

Some tips for writing children’s books include reading other books in the same age range, using age-appropriate language, focusing on plot and character development, and using vivid imagery to bring the story to life. Additionally, it’s important to proofread your work and get feedback from other readers before publishing your book.

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