The Temperament Corner

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Temperament Trait Strategies: Regularity

by Maxine
Posted July 30 2010 04:54pm
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Regularity : On The Temperament Wheel, is your child high or low? 

Low Regularity – this child is hard to predict.  It's difficult to tell when they're hungry or tired.

Comfort

  • allow your baby to graze and eat frequently throughout the day, instead of eating main meals. Being forced to eat at set times can become an area for conflict for this type of child.  This level of flexibility will help your child learn that eating time is a happy time for his family.

Play

  • at nighttime, allow your child to play by herself until she falls asleep. Some nights, she will fall asleep right away. Other nights, she will stay awake quite a while before falling asleep.  This will help her learn to entertain herself at the end of your long day.

Teach

  • keep your child in a regular bedtime routine. Even though he won't necessarily sleep at the end of the routine, it will help both of you have a regular end to your day.  This will help your child learn that nightime is for putting himself to sleep

 

High Regularity these children seem to have internal clocks that keep them on a predictable schedule, and they don't like to deviate!

Comfort

  • Comfort your baby when she's off her regular schedule.  This will help her to know you understand her—even if you can't make the world more regular for her.

Play

  • Use play to deviate from your baby's regular schedule—even if it's just a few minutes at first. Gradually lengthen the delays or changes in his schedule.  This will help your child learn to survive—and even like—more spontaneity in his life.

Teach

  • Put plans in place to help your baby de-stress if her schedule is thrown off. Carry a bag full of distractions in the car, such as food, favourite CDs or toys.  Eventually your child may learn how to de-stress himself on occasions when this happens.

 

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Temperament Trait Strategies: Sensitivity

by Maxine
Posted July 30 2010 04:56pm
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Sensitivity : On The Temperament Wheel, is your child high or low? 

Low Sensitivity – this child is blissfully unaware of things that bother others.  These children don't easily pick up on interpersonal signals. They misread others obvious cues.

Comfort

  • Provide a secure place for your child to go to when she misreads others obvious cues.  This will help her feel safe enough to start to learn what went wrong.

Play

  • Use imaginary play to encourage your baby to label feelings and become more familiar with how others express emotions. (For example, tell him, "This is how a mad cat meows…and this is how a sleepy cat meows.")

Teach

  • Teach your child to recognize other people's feelings. For example, "Daddy is tired."
    Provide emotion coaching in empathy. For example, "Mommy hurts. Give her a kiss."  This helps your child become more sensitive to other people, and how to show her own emotions appropriately.

 

High Sensitivity these children react strongly to even mild lights, sounds, textures, tastes and pain.  They are super sensitive to even mild stimuli, and are profoundly distressed by thunderstorms or wet diapers.

Comfort

  • if you see emotional or threatening situations that may overwhelm your child, help to prepare him in advance. For example, if a thunderstorm is coming, stay close to your baby and talk about it calmly and soothingly. This will help him learn to stay calm when a scary situation arises.  It is also helpful if you can provide your child with a variety of relationships that are soothing and nurturing. This helps him find the world to be a safe place from which to explore.

Play

  • encourage your child to express her feelings—particularly when she's playing. (For example, tell him, "This is how a mad cat meows... This is how a sleepy cat meows.")  This helps her become more comfortable with and less threatened by other people's feelings.

Teach

  • Set limits very gently.  Highly sensitive children often just need "that look" to stop them in their tracks.   Being too stern can upset them way beyond what is needed to teach them.  By doing this your child will want to please you and learn from you.

 

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Temperament - Parenting Strategies for Children Who Are "Difficult"

by Maxine
Posted August 3 2010 03:17pm
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Interestingly, the traits that are easy for some parents to accept may not be easy for others to accept.

Parents frequently label their children as “difficult” or “easy.”

This is partly subjective, referring to traits that are easy to accept versus those that are not.  Interestingly, the traits that are easy for some parents to accept may not be easy for others to accept.  And gender gets mixed up in this, too.  A highly active boy is sometimes easier for parents to accept than a highly active girl.

But labeling a child as “difficult” or “easy” is also partly objective.  Intense, highly reactive children are much more difficult to parent.  It is really difficult to listen to a child in distress, and anxious children are going to show a lot more distress than easy-going children.

What should you do if your child is difficult to handle? This can occur with any mis-match of a parent’s and a child’s temperament.  For example, it is often difficult for a very focused parent to handle a child who is stimulated by everything, and vice versa – it can be hard for a multi-tasking parent to manage a very focused child. 

There are also children whose emotions run hot all the time. And this is hard for most parents to manage.

There are specific strategies you can use to parent children with high or low levels of the nine temperament traits, which are often the most challenging to parent.  See the Nine Temperament Traits article to learn more about those.

Nonetheless, if you have a child who is difficult for you to handle, try the overarching Positive Parenting strategies below to keep you on an even keel.

For Yourselves:

  • Ask for help from your partner when you need relief.
  • Offer help to your partner, when you see them struggling.
  • Ensure you get some relief.
  • Take some time away from your child, so you can be glad to see him when you return – such as a part-time job or a class.
  • Find other caregivers who like and understand your child, and will give him quality time – such as grandparents, nannies, child care providers, or neighbours.
  • Use the Reflective Parenting Strategies, to help you find fresh strategies when new challenging situations arise. Learn more about Reflective Parenting.
  • Try reframing the most challenging traits of your child to see the positive aspect of these traits.  For example, a highly active child as an adventurous child or a shy child as a calm and cautious child. 

For Your Child

  • Be as patient, encouraging and understanding as you can, knowing that you may have to do more of this with a difficult child than with a child you find easy to parent.
  • Plan ahead.  You can forecast some stressful situations, and take steps to reduce the predictable tension, before it can take hold. 
  • Make some small accommodations to reduce tensions.   
  • Shape your child's behaviour by having him make baby steps toward the behaviour you desire.  In many cases you cannot totally change your child.  Figure out ways to inch your way toward what will work for you both.
  • Learn when to back off.  It is not helpful to push yourself or your child to the point where either of you loses your temper.  When you feel yourself or your child nearing such a crisis, stop and take a break.  If this is happening frequently, ask your child’s doctor for a referral to a mental health or child management clinic. 
     

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Temperament - A Family Affair

by Maxine
Posted July 30 2010 02:35pm
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What is temperament? Temperament is a combination of 9 emotional building blocks, called “traits” that affect how you respond to life.

These traits are: activity, adaptability, approach, distractibility, intensity, persistence, positivity, regularity, sensitivity.  Each of these traits can appear as either high or low, or something in between. 

Why is temperament important?
Humans are born with the traits.  They appear beginning early in life.  They affect how you, your husband or wife and your children act and relate as individuals and, importantly, with each other

How permanent are the traits?
Traits are biologically-based.  We know traits run in families.  They stay with us over time and we use them in many different situations.

Although traits are biological tendencies, no single gene has been found to cause them, and scientists predict this will never happen.  Genetic tendencies are not simple, but complicated.

These traits are genetically related tendencies, NOT destiny.  They are better at predicting what you will not become, rather than what you will become.  For example, if you are a highly active person, chances are good you won’t become very passive; but in most instances it does not mean you can’t learn to control your tendencies under certain conditions.

These traits appear in different degrees, and some are more dominant than others.  

So why is temperament important in parenting?

Each person in your family has temperament traits.  You have temperament traits.  Your spouse/partner has temperament traits.  Your children have them.  Understanding temperament provides the basis for parents to parent their child more effectively.

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