By: Kim Bedona-Padua
Having 3 boys and understanding temperament brings a little sanity to my life. Knowing their reaction to a situation helps me navigate through their emotions.
My oldest has a flexible mindset and my middle experiences stress with new situations or changes in schedule. This is what is referred to as temperament.
Temperament is the way a child reacts to their environment and how they regulate emotions. Psychiatrists Dr. Stella Chess and Dr. Alexander Thomas tell us temperament has nine dimensions that determine how a child relates to the world. Adaptability, being one of them, we need to understand how this plays a role in different types of temperaments.
They 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.
So be aware of your child’s reactions in order to identify their temperament types. Acknowledge their feelings and let them know it’s ok. Avoid comparing their temperament to other children. With my oldest, he is easy and needs reminding to think before he acts. My middle has a difficult temperament and I need to keep his schedule more consistent and encourage awareness. I see many children that are slow to warm join our school. This is why we give them time to adjust to the new class and avoid putting pressure on them to jump in before they are ready.
Temperament is different from child to child. Children do not choose what their temperament is, and one temperament is not better or worse than the other. When you recognize where the child falls you will have an easier time managing situations. 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 helps them to make the best of their own temperament. Thank you to Jennifer Salma, my parenting coach.