Community News: November, 2015-2016

9 Things You Need to Know About Your Child’s Temperament

By Dawn Carslen, NSC Parent Educator

Temperament is a set of innate/inborn traits that help define our own unique character. Accepting our children and ourselves for who we are, is important for a healthy parent child relationship. There is a biological, neural, hormonal and hereditary basis for tem- perament. Temperament describes how we consistently respond to the world over time. Although there are no good or bad temperament traits it is the extremes of temper- ament, either low or high, that tend to be most challenging. Based on the research of Thomas and Chess, there are 9 temperament traits.

  1. Activity Level - Refers to basic energy level; quiet and relaxed or on the move & busy.
  2. Regularity - Are eating, sleeping and elimination times predictable and regular or irregular?
  3. Adaptability - The ability to adapt to changes in routine, expectations, and schedule, and recover from disappointment and upset.
  4. Approach/Withdrawl - How a person initially reacts to a new situation or person.
  5. Sensitivity - How sensitive the person is to potentially irritating stimuli such as sound, smells, temperature, texture (foods, tags in clothing, etc).
  6. Intensity - How strongly the person reacts to negative or positive situations; laughs & cries loudly or more subdued.
  7. Distractibility - How easily the person is distracted by stimuli (noise, movement, smells) when trying to focus. People who often or always "hyper focus" on things to the exclusion of all else are actually distractible. They have to block everything out in order to concentrate on the tasks at hand.
  8. Quality of Mood - The amount of pleasant and cheerful behavior (positive mood) as contrasted with fussy, sad and negative.
  9. Persistence - How long the person will keep at a difficult activity without becoming frustrated or giving up.

Whether or not a child’s temperament is problematic is often determined by a parent's perception of the child's temperament. What constitutes a challenge is a matter of paren- tal perception and the fit between the parent and child. For example a parent who is physically active will value a high activity level in a child, where as a sedentary parent would likely find a highly active child challenging. A shy parent may be happy to have an outgoing child who finds it easier to approach people or be uncomfortable being drawn into the child’s conversations with other people. It is only when temperament traits get in the way of learning and relationships that problems occur. In most cases allowances and adjustments in a parent's routine and approach are all that are needed to best work with their child's temperament while still honoring their own.

I suggest some great reference material in this post. There is also a link to a short online quiz called, "Temperament: How do you and your child compare?" The results of the quiz provide a graph comparing the parent and child temperament traits and it provides parenting suggestions based on the comparison.

The PAC Newsletter

The PAC Newsletter is produced by parents working in the PAC Communication Committee. The aim of the newsletter is to help co-ops communicate among themselves, inform families about important dates, ideas, related classes and seminars, Cooperative Preschool solutions and techniques from other preschools. It also advertises teacher openings, and fundraising activities.

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