Difficult Or Resilient Temperament? How to Foster Social Development In Children

Social Development

Difficult Or Resilient Temperament? How to Foster Social Development In Children


 How would I define temperament? Temperament is defined as an individual’s behaviour style; we all inherit these behaviour styles. There are different variations of temperament; they range from a child’s self- regulation, emotions, the quality/ability to be social, how active they are and how they adapt to different things presented in their daily lives.

To improve ones goodness to fit you must understand your own temperament as well as your child’s.

Each child is unique, some children will develop difficulties based on their temperament while others will not, and this is based around the environment and goodness to fit. Goodness to fit occurs when a caregiver’s expectation and the environment match the child’s temperament characteristics; the environment must also be modified to fit the child. An example would be if a shy child were beginning childcare, the primary caregiver would stay with the child in the classroom and encourage the child to interact with others. If a child’s needs are not supported and no adaptations are made for the child to be successful, it is classified as a poor fit; this can compromise how a child adjusts to situations as well as how he/she overcomes temperament challenges. To improve ones goodness to fit you must understand your own temperament as well as your child’s.

Furthermore, a child’s temperament can affect how they advance in most areas of development, in particular their coping skills and resiliency. It is important for parents and caregivers to foster children’s temperament to ensure they are successful in their development.

How to foster a child’s temperament

  • Teach your child about the world and society
  • Teach your child about your family values and rules
  • Interact with your child, have fun by showing interest in what they are doing
  • Nurture your child, comfort him/her when upset and assist him/her through their emotions (emotions are intense for young children)
  • Provide limits and structure, this demonstrates to the child a sense of predictability, feelings safe and knowledge that there are certain expectations.

Temperament traits

The Inhibited Child

This describes a child’s initial behavioural response. Children who possess behavioural inhibition (BI) tend to withdraw from people they are unfamiliar with; the child may also show signs of anxiety and distress around these people.

The Uninhibited Child

These children present to be fearless in novel situations. Some children who possess these traits also show frustration and anger when there are rules and restrictions; they want to have control over.

 The Difficult Child

These children present with frequent night wakening’s and colic during infancy and later in life they can develop behaviour problems (10% of children meet this trait). Research shows these behaviours are related to certain kinds of parenting. Parents with ‘difficult’ children tend to be less affectionate with their child and sometimes intrusive in trying to engage their child.

How to enhance social development in children and adapt to their needs to assist with temperament:

  • Spend time observing your child
  • Set up the environment to allow the child to be successful based on their temperament characteristics (Hypersensitive, underactive etc)
  • Change negative labels into positive ones
  • Identify behaviours that trigger anxiety, anger in yourself and how your temperament is affected
  • Identify and adopt strategies to help adapt to your child’s temperament

There are 4 parenting roles that children must experience to foster their temperament and overall development: limit setter, teacher, nurturer and playmate. Taking on all of these roles will allow you to understand yours and you’re child’s temperament and set you both up to be successful together.

Do you have a difficult child, click here to fill out a questionnaire to find out.

Want more on temperament?

How to foster social development in children?

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Amy Gibson BCD, RECE

About Amy Gibson BCD, RECE

Amy, having earned a Bachelors Degree in Child Development, has been in the field of Early Childhood Education for the past 10 years. First working in an infant classroom, and then moving to JK, preschool and toddlers. Currently Amy works as a Supervisor of a childcare facility in York Region.

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