Temperament Rating Scales

Learn about the Ten Temperament Traits

The following questions and scales will help you identify your children’s (and your own) temperaments.

Download a pdf of the Temperament Rating Scales


  • Do your children seem to be explosive and loud rather than calm and quiet?
  • Does it seem as if they express their emotions in extremes?
  • Do they scream with excitement when good things happen?
  • When confronted with something they do not like, for example a certain food, do they wail with frustration?
  • Do you find yourself asking them constantly to quiet down?


No                                                                                                  Yes

1                        2                     3                   4                             5

Low Intensity                                                                    High Intensity

Mild Reactions                                                            Dramatic Reaction


Activity Level

  • Do your children seem to be moving all the time?
  • Do they have a hard time sitting at the dinner table or waiting patiently for something?
  • Do your children have difficulty sitting during long car trips?
  • While sleeping, do your children move all over the bed, getting entangled in blankets?
  • Are your children attracted to sports requiring lots of movement, like soccer and bike riding?
  • During habits of daily living, like brushing teeth and getting dressed, do your children move all over the place rather than stand in one spot?


No                                                                                                  Yes

1                        2                     3                   4                             5

Very Quiet                                                                         Very Active



  • Do your children get hungry or tired at the same times every day?
  • Are their rooms and belongings organized?
  • Do chores and homework occur about the same time every day?
  • Do your children enjoy days that follow an established routine?
  • Are habits easy to put in place?


No                                                                                                  Yes

1                        2                     3                   4                             5

Regular                                                                                  Irregular


Quality of Mood

  • Do your children seem to be more optimistic about life, pessimistic or somewhere in between?
  • Do they seem to be more happy and cheerful or more serious and glum most of the time?
  • Do they show mostly friendly and pleasant behaviors or mostly unfriendly and unpleasant behaviors during different situations?
  • Do your children seem to smile and laugh a lot, or whine and complain much of the time?


No                                                                                                  Yes

1                        2                     3                   4                             5

Positive                                                                                   Negative

Optimistic                                                                            Pessimistic


Emotional Sensitivity to Self and Others

To Self:

  • Are your children able to clearly express what they are feeling?
  • Do they seem to have reactions to things, like scary or sad stories or movies, that are excessive or “over the top”?
  • Does your child cry a lot and have a hard time “letting things go”?
  • Does your child get overly upset when someone disciplines, criticizes or comments negatively to them?


No                                                                                                  Yes

1                        2                     3                   4                             5

Unaware of own feelings                                               Feels Strongly


To Others:

  • Do your children seem to notice when others are upset or hurt?
  • Do they seem to “feel what others are feeling”?
  • Do they have a hard time letting thoughts of others go?
  • Do your children show a lot of empathy or sympathy towards others who are upset?


No                                                                                                  Yes

1                        2                     3                   4                             5

Insensitive to other’s feelings                               Emotionally tuned in


Sensory Sensitivity

  • Do your children have strong reactions to painful situations, like falling off a bike or getting a splinter?
  • Are your children extremely sensitive to certain fabrics or the way certain clothing feels? Do tags in their clothing or socks that do not fit “just right” bother them? Are your children sensitive to textures of foods?
  • Are your children able to distinguish flavors and differences in brands of foods? Do they comment often on how things taste?
  • Do your children have strong reactions to smells and odors? Do they notice the smells and odors when they visit other’s homes or the smells drifting through an open window?
  • Are your children aware of sounds that are soft, in the next room or from far away? Do your children respond to changes in sound, like a slight increase in volume or direction of a sound?
  • Do bright lights, such as a flash from a camera, bother your children? Do they need their room to be completely dark in order to go to sleep?

Low                                                                                               High

No                                                                                                  Yes

1                        2                     3                   4                             5

Does not notice pain                                               Feels pain very strongly

No reaction to contact                                         Easily irritated or pleased

Cannot tell the difference                                         Notices tiny variations

Does not notice odors                                          Has a keen sense of smell

Does not notice noise                                                     Sensitive to sounds

Visually insensitive                                                           Visually Sensitive



  • Do your children cry and get upset when you ask them to finish an activity and move on to something else?
  • Do surprises upset your children?
  • Do your children find it stressful to change ideas or routines?
  • Do you feel like you have to coax or beg your children for days to get them involved in new activities?
  • Is it difficult for your children to make decisions and when they do, do they agonize over their choices?


No                                                                                                  Yes

1                        2                     3                   4                             5

Adapts quickly                                                                  Adapts slowly



  • What are your children’s first reactions to new things, places, ideas or people?
  • Do they fuss when trying new foods or new clothes?
  • Do your children cling to your legs when you enter a new place like a school or a store, or when you introduce them to a stranger?
  • Do they protest and cry when you try to introduce new activities or changes in routines?


No                                                                                                  Yes

1                        2                     3                   4                             5

Outgoing                                                                   Cautious/Withdrawing

Quick to Approach                                                             Slow to approach



  • Do your children usually notice sights and sounds that others do not?
  • Do things easily divert them when they set out to do chores?
  • When doing homework or reading, do your children have a hard time focusing on the task?
  • Do they need many reminders to get things done?
  • Do your children have a hard time paying attention when you are speaking to them?
  • If your children get upset, can you easily shift their mood?


No                                                                                                  Yes

1                        2                     3                   4                             5

Low distractibility                                                         High distractibility

Not easily diverted                                                            Easily diverted

Unaware of surroundings                                                Very perceptive



  • Do your children have a hard time stopping activities, especially those they are not finished with?
  • Do your children plead and beg you to do things “their way”?
  • Once they start tasks, do they persist until they are complete?
  • Do your children stick with things, like puzzles or homework, to the end even after the task becomes boring or difficult?
  • Do your children become engrossed in toys and games?
  • Do your children work hard to master sports or musical instrument skills?

    No                                                                                                  Yes

    1                        2                     3                   4                             5

    Stops easily                                                                          Gets locked in

    Low Persistence                                                                 High Persistence


To learn more about each of the Temperament traits, you can click on the individual trait or you can go back to the Temperament Overview. Also available is information about the Broad Categories of Temperament as well as the concept of Goodness of Fit.



For more information about temperament, check out the following books. Purchasing from Amazon.com through our website supports the work we do to help parents do the best job they can to raise their children.

Raising Your Spirited Child by Kurcinka The Difficult Child Understanding Temperament by Schick The Challenging Child by Greenspan

<recommended books about temperament

<all our recommended parenting books

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