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March 9, 2011

What Temperament is Your Child?

Author: JenniferMaster1

Temperament, a valuable concept for parents, describes the differences in how children receive, digest, and express their experiences. Understanding each child’s temperament can show us how a child may handle new experiences and how he will respond to new challenges.
Temperament is made up of many factors: activity level, regularity, sensory, threshold, and mood. These traits are probably largely inborn.
“Differences in temperament, even at the extremes, are in the normal range of behavior. There is a ‘poorness of fit’ when the parent’s expectations are beyond the child’s temperamental abilities.” Stella Chess, MD
Flexible or Easy Child – 40%
This temperament is most common. The child has regular rhythms such as sleeping, hunger and bowel elimination, is generally positive and behaves with low intensity.The challenge here is not giving enough attention to the child who behaves well most of the time. This child still needs one on one attention and challenging activities to progress in development. This child will still test the boundaries or limits which have been set for him and misbehave at times. He needs praise and recognition for his accomplishments. ALL children should not be protected or insulated from events that are distressing (which are physically safe) to encourage developmental growth.
Fearful or Slow-to-Warm Child – 15%
This child may be slow to adapt to new situations, may withdraw and is very cautious. Their rhythms, mood and intensity can vary. Calmness and patience are two attributes that parents need when dealing with this temperament. Do not force or rush the child into new situations. Make sure you allow extra time in your own schedule for the child to transition to a new activity or environment. Provide a calm, predictable routine for the child so they know what to expect. All temperaments benefit from a neat and organized environment, but especially this child does. Let others be aware of the child’s temperament so they can be supportive of the child. Let this child learn at her own pace and praise her for progression.
Feisty or Difficult Child – 10%
With this temperament it’s important to remember the quote above that differences in temperaments,even at the extremes, are in the normal range of behavior! This child has unpredictable rhythms,  moods swings, and is high intensity. The parent must be brave when dealing with this temperament. Just kidding, well maybe not! This child may need calm re-direction when getting out of control. Also, allow for plenty of outdoor time, large motor activities and movement. Do not expect them to sit still for very long but encourage increasing progression and attention span.
They can resist being rushed, so prepare the child for change as with the fearful child. They can be forceful, disruptive, pushy and want their way. Calmly teach them to share, wait their turn and to be patient with other children. Play dough or other sensory activities are especially helpful with this child. Bright lights, loud noises, overcrowding and physical touch can be tough on this temperament so be particularly sensitive to his environment. When they are quiet, praise them and make their activity special. All children benefit from yoga, tai chi or EFT (emotional freedom techniques or tapping techniques) but especially these children to help keep them active in a calm way.

Flavorful or Mixture Child – 35%
Some children don’t fit into these three categories because they are a mixture of them. Use your own intuition and reasoning in dealing with this child type. Praise and love the flavorful mixture temperament just as you would other temperaments. Remember that a “goodness of fit” is when adults handle each child in ways in which the child can meet the demands successfully. “Poorness of fit” is when the adult expects the child to adjust too quickly or at a level that the child is unable to meet. If you are unsure about your “fit” with your child, some study of child development stages would be very beneficial. Also, feel free to ask your child’s teacher or child care provider for suggestions. Always remember that you are the best parent for your child!

(This article includes notes from the book Touchpoints 3-6, pages 11-13 by T. Berry Brazelton, M.D. & Joshua D. Sparrow, M. D. also from a program developed by Janet Poole, WestEd, The Program for Infant/Toddler Caregivers. Information used for educational purposes.)

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