Understanding Your Child’s Temperament

Understanding Your Child’s Temperament

There is an old saying around these parts that “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes”. While this adage describes the unpredictable temperature and precipitation fluctuations of our bread basket, it can also be applied to the unpredictable mood swings and personality shifts of our children. Even the most timid and level headed kids can be impacted at some point or other. This constantly shifting tide of emotions and behaviors can make it difficult to understand a child’s personality.

As parents, understanding our little miracle’s personality at times can be challenging and not for the meek. Shortly after delivery the nurses and doctor hand over this new bundle of joy and somehow we expect to be in sync with this tiny stranger. Unfortunately, this expectation can lead to a lot of hours spent trying to analyze every babble, cry, or giggle as we try to decode his personality or temperament to find out who they will become later in life.

The Temperament Factor

It should come as no surprise that each child has a unique blend of traits that make them who they are as an individual. While we are all wonderfully made, it should be noted that this grouping of traits are determining factors in how a child or adult reacts to their environment. According to Ecclesiastes 3 there is a season and a time for everything. Inevitably, in our child’s life there will be a time to cry, a time for laughter, a time for joy, a time to love, and so on. In turn, we can begin to understand their personalities.

These seasons in life allow us to sneak a glimpse at our child’s temperament or innate qualities of how our sons and daughters react to everyday situations that involve routine, new experiences, meeting people, and transitions. As parents, we get to witness this at work everyday as our boys and girls make new friends, have to share a beloved toy, or struggle to master stacking a tower of blocks. As our kids grow and age, these traits become more pronounced as they interact with others and develop language skills.

These reactions are key factors in understanding a child’s personality type and typically they can be sorted into five inborn temperament characteristics:

  • Reaction Intensity
  • Level of Activity
  • Frustration Tolerance
  • Response of Adaptability to Change
  • Reactions to Meeting Strangers

Piecing Together a Child’s Personality

It’s important to note the spectrum and behaviors for temperament cover a wide range. There will always be an extreme, but typically most children can be located somewhere in the middle. Trying to pinpoint exactly where a child fits on that scale is complicated, but most experts feel there is approximately 16 personality types or combinations of temperaments.

Thankfully, we don’t need a PhD to analyze and break down our child’s personality, because we can use these universal four basic characteristic groups as a guide:

The Sensitive Child. Thoughtfulness, adaptability, and controlled emotions are signs of this group. Sensitive kids are attentive to others and tend to worry about fairness.

The Fun Loving Child. This personality type is social, lively, and playful. They roll with the punches and are imaginative.

The Serious Child. These children exhibit maturity, persistence, and deep thoughts. Typically, they like order and attention to detail.

The Determined Child. Children that fit in this group often exhibit adventurous, determined, or outspoken behaviors. These boys and girls are often competitive, willing to try new things, and are strong-spirited

Putting It All Together

Looking ahead, we need to challenge ourselves to recognize scenarios that might trigger meltdowns or stress in our sons and daughters. Paying attention to the way a child behaves and acts in different situations allows us to gain a better insight into our child’s personality. After all, the personality traits that are challenging to deal with today, just might develop into positive attributes tomorrow. By doing so, we can weather a lot of life’s storms by remembering our kids don’t get a choice when it comes to the temperament or personality they are born with.

We just need to remember that after every storm comes a rainbow…

Today’s post comes from Hilary Smith, who has guest posted several times on Growing Kids Ministry.

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