How to Recognize a Child’s Temperament and what to do about it

April 12, 2018

Maya Angelou said, and maybe not without reason, “If I have a monument in this world, it’s my son”. As beautiful this phrase may be, the truth is that we often end up tearing our hair out because of our children. Either due to their bad behavior or because they’re far too passive.The fact of the matter is that every baby is born with their own temperament. We just have to get used to that fact!

We mustn’t forget a child’s temperament is already evident from a very young age. How he is raised and his social surroundings will have an influence and shape his temperament in some way. However, his personality will be still be influenced to a great degree by the temperament he was born with. It is what he has inherited from the mysteries of the gene pool.

A child’s temperament

Knowing your child’s temperament, even when they are a baby, is very important. It can give us valuable information on how, for example, we can teach him more effectively. In fact, from very early on we can have an idea what our little one will be like in the future. Comments like “When he grows up he’s going to be a genius” or “Wow, he’s so calm!” are often fulfilled in some way in the future. As much as these characteristics can change and evolve to some extent, there will be certain aspects that will change very little, or even not at all.

In scientific terms we can divide children into three very specific types of temperaments. On the one hand we have the “easy kids“. On the other end of the spectrum we have the “difficult children“. And to complete the set we have the “apathetic” ones. All of these will be described individually below.

Baby with Dad

Obviously, by classifying kids in this way, we are guilty of generalizing. The fact is that these three personality types that are applied to babies are not absolute. A child could quite possibly, for example, have a high percentage of apathy mixed with a small percentage of difficult character.

You may also have an “easy child”, who is sometimes apathetic, or an apathetic one who is sometimes very easy to deal with.

All of this is not a complete classification. It can, though, serve as a guide in order to understand the child, and to learn to deal with him according to his specific temperament.

Children of easy temperament

According to studies, 40% of babies have an “easy” temperament. That is to say, they are raised easily, they don’t usually have problems with their temperament, and they acquire healthy habits with ease.

These children adapt very well to changes and learn to obey orders from a very early age. They tend to be very “smily”, both with acquaintances and with strangers. They have the temperament that all parents would probably choose for for their children.

Children of difficult temperament

Children with a difficult temperament constitute 10% of all babies. Their parents need to display an extraordinary patience almost 24 hours a day, due to the difficulty in raising this type of child. You could say that these children are real experts in testing their parent’s patience.

In general, these children get irritated very easily and find it difficult to acquire healthy habits. It is necessary, therefore, to employ strict limits, a good teaching approach, and love, to make their behavior soften. These children tend to not feel safe and loved, and this often makes them somewhat distrustful.

“A baby is a blank check for the human race”

-Barbara Christine Seifert-

Baby crying

Children of apathetic temperament

The third type is when a child’s temperament can be described as apathetic. They comprise 15% of babies and they stand out for being extraordinarily laid back. It is rare to see them complaining about anything, and they adapt perfectly to change.

In fact, this type of baby has a certain indifference towards external stimuli. This is actually not necessarily something to worry about. They are children who don’t usually attach great importance to the outside world. They perceive it as predictable and not particularly surprising. Or at least as more predictable and less surprising than it is for other children of their age.

In reality, their indifference towards what surrounds them is not a sign that they like it, but rather of conformism to it.

All of these babies and children should be treated in the same way. We should try to contain the more problematic aspects of their temperament and enhance those that are not. In this sense, getting to know the child’s temperament will be important when we want to teach them something.

For example, very dynamic children will learn better if we let them try things, and then correct them while they are doing whatever it is. With quieter children we’ll be able to teach them both before and after they try something.

The other 35%…

Finally, we have the 35% of children who do not exclusively exhibit any one of these patterns. They are said to have a mixed personality. That is to say, they show characteristics of each temperament type in different percentages.

Although a child may normally be calm, in certain situations they could react in a difficult or apathetic way. There is no definite 100% pattern, although in all babies we can usually identify one that predominates.

“A baby is something that you carry inside you for nine months, in your arms for three years and in your heart until you die”

-Mary Mason-

And so, after everything we’ve shared with you, would you be able to say what temperament type your baby or child has? Although this information is quite general, it can be very useful as a guide. Learning to understand our children is essential if we want to contribute in an intelligent way to their development.