Temperament and Your Child
Do you know a child who is self-entertaining and another who prefers constant company? Why does one child get hurt feelings or anger easily, when another seems oblivious in the same situation? Researchers call it temperament.
What is temperament?
Temperament describes many broad areas, including:
Temperament traits can change with age, but studies show that many traits remain consistent.
- Children’s energy level.
- How easily they adapt to new situations.
- How they handle frustrations.
- Whether they keep regular schedules for eating and sleeping.
Temperament traits are not necessarily bad or good, though they can be a challenge for parents at times. It can be especially difficult when your child’s trait is very different from yours. For example, a child who is slow to adapt may need more time and prompting to shift from playing to getting ready to go out and this can be frustrating to a more adaptable parent.
Some temperament traits may be perceived as negative but can be helpful in the right situations:
- A child who tends to be shy or slow to warm up to new people might benefit from not rushing into friendships too quickly.
- A child who becomes overly focused on a game or toy might also demonstrate persistence that will be an asset at school and work.
- A child whose high energy level drives parents to exhaustion might later become the star athlete on a sports team.
Parents and children with compatible traits tend to have a fairly harmonious family life. Those who are less similar may run into conflicts or misunderstandings.
Watch our video "Infant Temperament" with guest expert James Cameron, Ph.D. Discover the different temperament traits and how to work with your child’s temperament in order to build a more fulfilling relationship.
A temperament assessment can help you identify your child’s trait profile and give you valuable suggestions on how to work through the bumps. If your child is 4 months to 5 years old, visit the Preventive Ounce website to complete a free temperament assessment and learn more.
Interested in other children's health topics?
Growth and Development
Health and Safety for Young Children
Children’s Health and Parenting Advice
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