It’s the temperament talking

When it comes to comparing my children’s temperaments, my son is the easy-going child and my daughter the slow-to-warm child. Typically present at birth, a child’s temperament helps understand how they approach or react to the world around them.

Temperament classifications

Temperament is an important indicator to a child’s emotional and social health. Split into three types, temperament is described as easy-going, slow-to-warm and active. Easy-going children are generally happy from birth and adjust easily to new environments and situations. Slow-to-warm children generally are very observant but take longer to adjust to new environments. Active children have varied routines and have a genuine zest for life.

You can think about your child’s temperament in terms of how much or how little they show of these three qualities:

• Reactivity: this is how strongly children reacts to things in their environment like exciting events or not getting their own way. Reactive children tend to feel things strongly.

• Self-regulation: this is how much children can control their behavior, including the way they show their feelings. It’s also about how much children can control their attention and how persistent they are.

• Sociability: this is how comfortable children are when they meet new people or have new experiences.

Temperament and “Goodness of Fit”

How does your temperament differ from your child’s? Are you vastly different or more alike than you care to admit? Each child has an unique place in the world, largely guided by their temperament. Your child is who they are and you won’t be able to change your child’s temperament. However, you can support your child’s development by adjusting your parenting to meet the needs of your child’s temperament. It is up to you to develop the positive parts of your child’s temperament.

From the Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation on adult-child compatibility, “Compatibility is often referred to as “goodness of fit.” A goodness of fit happens when an adult’s expectations and methods of caregiving match the child’s personal style and abilities. What is most beneficial about the goodness of fit concept is that it does not require that adults and children have matching temperaments. The parent or caregiver does not have to change who they are naturally, they can simply alter or adjust their caregiving methods to be a positive support to their child’s natural way of responding to the world.”

In the next article we will discuss the nine different characteristics associated with temperament. In the meantime, observe your child’s temperament and compare it to that of your own. I would love to hear what you have discovered.


Carrie Kube is a director for the Iowa River Valley

Early Childhood Area Board.


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