What Is Your Child’s Personality?

Growing YearsWhat is your child’s temperament?  Children come into this world with an established bent toward a specific temperament.  As they grow and interact with their environment, the temperament becomes set and is used by the child while exploring and learning.  There are no bad temperaments… just different.  Researchers have categorized three types of temperaments  While the characteristics are agreed upon, the names vary.  By determining the temperament of the child, it is easier to guide the child through daily ups and downs.   Every parent, childcare worker and teacher should be aware of each child’s temperament and appropriate responses to them.  We need to remember to make the program fit the child and not the child fit the program. The three temperaments are, adaptable, cautious, and feisty.

The Adaptable Child is happy and  flexible.  New situations and routines are easy, as they are naturally inclined to take change in stride. Transitions are easier, with a willingness to try new things, and embrace the daily routine. The adaptable child’s activity level is on the passive end. New people and situations are taken in stride, adapting quickly and with very low intensity.  The adaptable child is easy going, not easily distracted by sensory issues, and will stay on the task at hand.  About 40 percent of children in the classroom are adaptable. This is the child that is most in danger of needs being overlooked.  The adaptable child will “go with the flow,” even when things conflict with the child’s own needs. The teacher should make sure the adaptable child has time set aside to communicate and interact with the teacher daily.

The Cautious Child is careful and passive, reacts negatively and are slow to adapt to new experiences.  New situations may create fear.  The child may stand back and watch other children experiment with new things.  The more changes confronting a cautious child, the more likely there will be inactivity. The activity level of a cautious child is on the passive end, but may involve fidgeting. Concerns about new people and situations are present, as it takes time for this child to adapt, reacting intensely, withdrawing from classmates and activities. Sensory stimuli, such as strong or unfamiliar smells and noises, may be a problem.  The child’s mood will depend on the comfort level. About 15 percent of the children in the classroom are cautious children.  Once a cautious child gets comfortable with the teacher, there is a feeling of connection.  A cautious child needs preparation to learn how to cope with new people and experiences. Clearly outline the routine and inform the child of any changes. The cautious child should be given time to watch, with instructions to join when comfortable.

The Feisty Child is intense and passionate, reacting intensely and negatively.  There is difficulty adapting to new situations.  Irregular daily routines, and transitioning from one activity to another is very difficult. The child has short attention spans, but can be attentive for long periods of time for chosen activities.  This child is typically passionate and moody, both positively and negatively, and are very determined.  When interrupted you will know, in no uncertain terms how annoyed they are. The child is effected by new people, intense situations and sensory issues.  This is not a boring child.  About 10 percent of the children in the classroom are feisty.  Flexibility is particularly important for the feisty child.  Giving reasons for the way things are done will help both the child and the adult. Avoid too many arbitrary rules and make sure the child understands the necessity for the rules. It is necessary to prepare the feisty child for changes. Preparing for sleeping and eating, will make these events more manageable.

Source: Linda G. Swann, M.S. Early Childhood / SPED