Your child's temperament is mostly an innate quality he is born with, though it may be influenced early in life by experiences and interactions with others, as well as health and environment. When your child reaches school age, his overall temperament has become well-defined and will not change much as he grows older.
How You React To Your Child
Your child's behavior and characteristics are not solely a result of your own parenting. How you interact with his temperament and behavior and how others surrounding him respond, as well as his comfort level within his own environment, all have an effect. Being aware of some of the characteristics of temperament will help you better understand your child. Fostering appreciation for his uniqueness will enable you to assist in dealing with problems that may lead to any misunderstandings and conflicts.
Characteristics of Temperament
There are at least nine different characteristics of temperament. These include activity level, rhythmicity or regularity, approach and withdrawal, adaptability, intensity and mood, attention span, distractibility and sensory threshold. Some kids with a high activity level are more fidgety or restless than others which can affect sleep patterns. Rhythmicity or regularity relates to whether or not there is a pattern for basic physical functions including appetite, bowel habits and sleep. Adaptability refers to how easily your child adjusts to new situations or change and how easily he can modify his reaction to these. Intensity is the energy level -- positive or negative -- with which your child responds to situations.
Approach and withdrawal refers to whether your child initially responds to various stimuli such as people, places, foods, or changes in routines in a rapid, bold manner or a slow, hesitant disposition. If your child appears to concentrate and stay on task easily without distraction, this means he has a good attention span. Does he appear in a positive or negative mood? Distractibility is the ease with which your child can be distracted from a task at hand either by visual or auditory environmental stimuli. Some children have a high sensory threshold and require a high amount of stimulation, while others respond to very little stimulation. Once you understand how and why your child responds to any situation based on these characteristics, you can better control your child's response. Being aware of the environment and how others respond will influence your child's reactions.
Sleep May Affect Temperament and Personality
According to Dr. Weissbluth, pediatrician and author of "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child," not encouraging good sleep habits in infancy and early childhood may have long-term harmful effects. Weissbluth states that many research studies show more daytime behavioral problems in preschoolers who are poor sleepers with less consolidated sleep patterns. These behavioral patterns may include aggression, defiance, non-compliance, oppositional behavior, acting out and hyperactivity. All were all associated with less sleep. Instilling good sleep habits in your child will not determine personality, but could help your child with coping mechanisms and temperament in various situations.
- Reference 1: Healthychildren.org: How to Understand Your Child's Temperament
- Reference 2: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child; Dr. Marc Weissbluth
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