Parenting Your Child's Temperament: Part One
Tips on how to understand and accept your child's temperament
At What Age Can I Determine My Child’s Temperament?
There is some debate about how early a parent can detect a child’s temperament. Carey and his colleagues designed five sets of questionnaires for parents, including one for infants between the ages of one and four months old. They found that the nine traits identified by Thomas and Chess were discernable in this very early period. But they have yet to determine how stable these traits remain over a child’s lifetime.
Kathy Oliver M.S., Family and Consumer Sciences Agent at Ohio State University Extension, says that some traits, including rhythmicity, distractibility, and activity level are evident in the first few weeks.
“I nursed both my babies,” says Oliver. “And there was a big difference in how distractible they were. When my son was at the breast that is where he was. With my daughter, any little movement or noise would cause her to wriggle and look around. She is still that way and she is thirteen now.”
Does this mean that if your infant seems highly distractible he will inevitably face problems in school? Or if you cannot set your watch by your newborn’s bowel movements you are destined to raise a “difficult” child? Absolutely not.
Although temperament is inborn and at least partially genetic, it is not static. How well a parent understands and accepts their child’s temperament can have a dramatic impact on how each trait will manifest itself.
Dr. Carey’s previously mentioned book, Understanding Your Child’s Temperament, contains a detailed section on how to manage the distinctive character traits your child may display. Look for a sequel to this article on how to achieve “goodness of fit” between your child’s temperament and your parenting style, and how to create effective parenting styles to achieve optimal harmony in your home.
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