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Temperament: Mood

by Nancy and Nanci
Posted April 24 2012 12:36pm
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Recently a friend joined Netflix. After uploading three movies, she was upset to find that the site had profiled her as someone who likes “grim, gritty movies.” She quickly uploaded a bunch of romantic comedies to lighten her profile. We’re a society that is focused on the pursuit of happiness but not all of us are born with a sunny predisposition.

MOOD is one of the innate temperament traits. Some people are born with a Sunny mood and some with a SERIOUS mood. Sunny babies flash radiant smiles and laugh easily and often. These babies easily engage the adults and children in their world and radiate a sense of well-being. On the other end of the spectrum, serious babies seem to be philosophers studying the world. If parents aren’t confident in their role, they may see their serious baby as a baby whose needs are not being met.

In one of our temperament workshops we invited six-month-old twins to be our “guest professors.” The baby boy had a sunny mood. He smiled and cooed. We adults smiled and cooed to him. He laughed and we laughed. All of us enjoyed the interaction. Meanwhile, the baby girl looked on with furrowed brow. A few adults talked quietly to her but when she didn’t smile, they turned to her brother. We asked everyone to stop and reflect on how we were reacting to the two children. The mother said that even she and her husband found themselves giving more attention to their happy-go-lucky boy than their serious, reflective girl. Once they realized what was happening, , they made a conscious effort to engage their little girl and to make sure family and friends gave her plenty of attention, too.

If you have a happy-go-lucky baby, what are the challenges? If you label a child as “always happy,” your son or daughter may feel uncomfortable about expressing other emotions like sadness or anxiety. Some sunny children, especially girls, may be seen as naïve or less bright than others. If you have a serious baby, you may have to help family, friends, teachers and caregivers to appreciate your child’s nature. Find ways to involve your child in fun activities but also find ways he can address his serious side - saving pennies for the food bank or picking daffodils for an elderly neighbour.

Remember that ALL children experience the full range of emotions. If you’re not sure how your child is feeling – sunny or serious – offer labels for emotions – happy, pleased, angry, anxious, frightened, disappointed, scared… You may want to offer a scale of one to ten to understand the intensity of the emotion. Helping your child to develop their emotional intelligence will help them understand the complexity emotion brings to all relationships. Whether sunny, serious or moderate in mood, we all benefit from being able to recognize and name the emotions we all feel.

 


 

This article was written by Parents2Parents experts,
Nanci Burns and Nancy Rubenstein
, co-authors of Take Your Temperament!

We all know that every child is unique. The Take Your Temperament! work-book is designed to help you put that reality into action in an engaging and meaningful way. It invites parents and children to explore how they react to the world—and do so without guilt or shame. Find out more at www.takeyourtemperament.ca.

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