How To Manage Your Child’s Temperament
Every child is born with their own unique way of interacting with the world. Some are
flexible in the midst of change while others may experience stress when presented with
new situations or a change in schedule. This is what is referred to as temperament. And
while some temperaments are easier to handle then others, it is important for parents to
understand temperament traits, such as adaptability. By doing this, we can help
children become the best version of themselves in the most effective way possible.
Temperament is the way a child reacts to their environment and how they regulate
emotions. Psychiatrists Dr. Stella Chess and Dr. Alexander Thomas identified nine
dimensions of temperament that they felt were significant when determining how a
child relates with the world. One of the nine, adaptability, plays a huge role in how
children transition through changes around them. Understanding how this plays a role in
the different types of temperament is key for parents, teachers, and coaches.
Within their research, Dr. Chess and Dr. Thomas identified three types of temperament:
easy, difficult, and slow to warm up. In regards to adaptability, children with an easy
temperament are able to adjust to changes quickly and smoothly and enjoy new
activities. However, they can be impulsive because they always jump into new things,
sometimes without thinking first. Difficult temperaments tend to have very strong
emotional reactions to things and are extra sensitive to stimuli. On the flip side, they are
very passionate and determined. Slow to warm up children often resist new activities
and feel uncomfortable around new people. On a positive note, though, they are less
likely to be influenced by peer pressure and they thrive on routines.
Knowing this information can help parents and other adults interact with children of
different temperaments more effectively. One of the first things to do is to be aware of
your child’s reactions in order to identify their temperament type. No matter what
temperament they have, make sure children know that the feelings they are
experiencing are ok and avoid comparing their temperament to that of another child.
When addressing different temperaments, help the easy ones with thinking before they
act. Help the children with more difficult temperaments by keeping a consistent
schedule and encourage self-awareness. For slow to warm up children, give them time
to adjust to new situations and avoid putting pressure on them to jump into activities
before they are ready.
To help with this the SKILLZ program offers supplemental information called Parent SKILLZ
that supports parents to be the best they can for their child. Within this curriculum, there
are eight skills that offer ways to do this. Utilizing these skills when addressing individual
child temperaments will be the most effective way to handle it. And while it’s important
for parents to know the temperament of their child, it is equally important for teachers
and coaches to be apply this as well. SKILLZ instructors incorporate these skills into their
interactions with students on a daily basis. They are attuned to their individual needs
and adjust accordingly.
Temperament is different from child to child, even within the same family. Children do
not choose what their temperament is, and one temperament is not better or worse
than the other. Reframing how you describe a child can be powerful for them and you.
The easy child is outgoing, the difficult child is determined, and the slow to warm child is
observant. The important thing to remember is that each child is unique and help them
to make the best of their own temperament.