What is Temperament?
Temperament, a part of the Unique Child, refers to the individualized blueprint that each child is born with and that determines how he reacts to the world around him.
Based on a thirty-year study begun in 1956, temperament explains why some children are very easy-going while others tend to be more challenging for parents. Sometimes you hear these challenging children being called “difficult” or spirited; this is often because they have temperamental traits that make them more demanding to parent.
Ten Temperament Traits
2. Activity Level
4. Quality of Mood
5. Emotional Sensitivity
6. Sensory Sensitivity
Does your child react strongly when told “no” to something? Does your child have a hard time letting ideas go? Or does your child seem to give up without trying their hardest?
Why is Knowing this Important?
You can tailor your parenting strategies to better meet your children’s needs.
Knowing how your children respond will help you and your children to more successfully handle difficult situations.
You can teach your children to manage their reactions.
Then both of you will be able to appreciate the positive aspects of that trait.
For example, children who are considered “stubborn” could be viewed as persistent. Similarly, children who are labeled “negative” may be thought of as serious.
Often the same characteristics that make raising children difficult are the same qualities that serve them well as adults.
For example, a highly dramatic and intense child can be very entertaining even as a child, and might become a successful actor, litigator, or teacher. A very picky (discerning) eater may become a premier chef.
You can foster self-esteem and a more positive relationship.
By learning to work with your unique child, rather than against him, you will be able to have a powerful influence on his development.
To identify your children’s (and your own) temperament, use the Temperament Rating Scales. Answer the questions provided for each trait to guide you in determining where your children fall on each scale.
You can then read more about each temperament trait in articles that are also in our Parenting Information Library. You can also learn 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.