What is temperament
Temperament is a persons in-born traits which influence how they interact and learn from the world around them.
A person’s temperament appears to be hard-wired from birth and is influenced by both genetics and environmental issues, especially during pregnancy.
Researchers, Alexander Thomas and Stella Chess, developed a temperament model composed of nine traits:
1. Activity Level
3. Approach/Withdrawal/First Reactions
5. Sensory Threshold/Sensitivity
6. Intensity of Reaction
9. Attention Span/Persistence
They then created 3 general categories of temperament that are often referred to in parenting books:
• Slow to Warm or Shy Child
• The Easy Child
• The Spirited Child (They really called these kids ‘difficult’ . They may also be referred to as challenging or more temperamental. From experience I can say, the more you invest in them the greater the reward and also, they are not boring)
Your Spirited Child may need a lot of support and help navigating the world but they have great potential and through your love and patience they can accomplish great things.
Here is a tip shared by a lovely Mom of a spirited toddler, that can be helpful for navigating parenting with any child:
Winnie the Pooh – Eyeore temperament
Temperament has a big impact on sleep and sleep learning and is a big focus of our sleep practice. We include a section on understanding temperament and sleep for all of our 1-1 clients and in our online Gift of Sleep program.
Parenting in harmony
How temperament affect learning and development
Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQHYHsjurM4
How does your child’s environment impact their temperament? Answer to the age-old Nature vs. Nurture Debate. Tip for helping parents work with children with challenging temperaments using the Override Principle.
Youtube video: Child Temperament: How We Start to Become Ourselves | David C Rettew | TEDxBurlingtonED
Override Principle helps us understand how we can regulate our own actions to work with our children instead of being at constant odds. Essentially this shifts the focus away from trying to change children to fit in and meeting and supporting them in their uniqueness and innate characteristics.
Goodness of Fit
Goodness of fit relates to how compatible the child is with the demands and expectations. How a parent or caregiver interacts with a child’s temperament will have a significant impact on how well they thrive and adapt. Having similar temperament traits to parents certainly makes this easier. However, its not required for goodness of fit.
Goodness of fit increases positive behaviour and outcomes, however it requires awareness, work and sensitivity on the parent’s part.
We can achieve goodness-of-fit by being flexible, learning all we can about the child, and being willing to adapt our own expectations and parenting to work with the child’s temperament.