Temperament Part 2 of 3

Temperament – Part 2 of 3

Last week I listed the nine traits which make up your temperament or personality. Basically you are born with them, and it’s believed they don’t change that much over time – the idea that ‘who you are’ is it.

As a parent, how do we cater for our children’s temperaments, when life isn’t always going to go their way?

Let’s look at each trait.

Activity Level:

If you have a highly active child (more than their peers), give them plenty of opportunity to move about freely, including both inside and outside play – after that maybe have reading time, or puzzle play with them, so that they learn to sit a little. A highly active child is not a diagnosis of ADHD, and if you have genuine concerns, see a doctor. What I’ve often seen is a highly active child, with low activity parents, which makes the child ‘look’ too busy!

Children of low activity, may benefit from gentle encouragement to play an outside ball game, or climbing on the equipment in the park. Avoid letting these children have lots of TV or screen time.

Children who are highly adaptable may happily flit to each new opportunity. Ensure that you get one on one time playing with them to strengthen your bond, as they’ll want to be off again shortly!
Children who have low adapability need to be given time to get ready for the change/ new situation. Keep them informed. It may be worth repeating a situation, to give them the opportunity to get used to that place/ person.


Children who have high persistence, may continue on a task which is beyond them, as they don’t want to give up, or feel they have ‘failed’. A classic example of this, is one of my daughters. As a 9 y.o she had invested a lot of time in putting together a project for school, with writing, pictures, colourful headings etc. After giving her lots of praise for her work and presentation, I pointed out one spelling mistake (the teacher in me!). She promptly scrunched it up, threw it in the bin, and started again! Encourage these children to get comfortable with mistakes or ‘failures’ so that they see it is part of life, and that it’s actually how you learn to do things differently!

Children with low persistence need your help to stay with a task. Break the task down into smaller, more manageable pieces, and let them have success in this way.

Approach / Withdrawal:

Children who boldly step forward in new situations should not be discouraged from that. They may need reminders around limits and safety.

Children who are more cautious need a bit of time to get used to new situations. Talking with them, in advance, about what’s happening today will alleviate their discomfort. Remind younger children that they can hold your hand if they’re not quite ready. Don’t avoid new situations, just prepare them for it.

We’ll look at the other five traits next week. Till then…

Happy Parenting

Image by Florencia&Pe via Flickr

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