Types of Child Temperament

Types of Child Temperament

Types of Child Temperament

 

Becoming a parent is an exciting and often daunting prospect. The media is full of images of happy parents and babies. The notion of ‘sleeping like a baby’ abounds and people everywhere make assumptions of how wonderful it will be to have a child. The reality is that it is not always easy and that babies and children differ tremendously.

 

We used to think that babies were born as tabula rasa’s (blank slates) ready to be influenced by the world. We now know that children are born with different temperaments, which are then influenced by their experiences and the world around them.

 

Did you anticipate what your child would be like before they were born? Perhaps you thought they would be calm like you. Perhaps you felt they were non-stop in the womb and would always be on the go. Maybe your child came to you through adoption and you wondered how their birth family would influence who they are.

 

We used to think that babies were born as tabula rasa’s (blank slates) ready to be influenced by the world. We now know that children are born with different temperaments, which are then influenced by their experiences and the world around them.

 

There are three broad categories of temperament (Thomas, Chess & Birch, 1968). Which of the following traits above do you identify with most for yourself? What about for your child?

 

The Adaptable Child

  • Approachable
  • Has regular rhythms e.g. sleeps and eats on a regular schedule
  • Generally positive mood
  • Low intensity
  • Low sensitivity

 

The Feisty Child

  • Active
  • Intense
  • Distractible
  • Sensitive
  • Irregular
  • Moody

 

The Cautious Child

  • Slow to adapt
  • Withdraws easily

 

Of course there are dimensions within these and you may see traits from more than one category for the same person.

 

What does this mean for you, the parent?

Parents and children with similar temperaments can find it easier to understand each other (although a feisty parent and a feisty child can have a tendency to clash). Reflecting on your own and your child’s temperament can help you to understand them better.

 

There can be a lot of comparison between peers with similar age children. Knowing your own child’s temperament can help you understand why your child is different to others e.g. just won’t sleep well when others seem to have had no problem achieving this.

 

Check this out for further information and to complete a temperament tool.

 

What to learn more about childhood attachment or emotional development?

 

 

Jemma Helfman, ClinPsyD., C.Psych.

About Jemma Helfman, ClinPsyD., C.Psych.

Jemma is a child and adolescent clinical psychologist. She currently works in private practice, providing assessment and interventions for children with a variety of presenting difficulties. Jemma has also provided consultation and trainings to schools and daycares.

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