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Managing your child’s temperament

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
27 August 2022   |   3:35 am
Temperament defines a person’s nature especially as it permanently affects behaviour. Differences in temperament influence the way children handle emotions, regulate behaviour and feel around new people.

Temperament defines a person’s nature especially as it permanently affects behaviour. Differences in temperament influence the way children handle emotions, regulate behaviour and feel around new people.

In every family with children, parents can notice that their children react differently; while one can be easy-going and easy to please, the other can be an attention seeker, cranky or defiant.

Hence, behaviour differences don’t always stem from the environment. Each child is born with a unique temperament. As a parent, it’s important to tailor your discipline strategies to your child’s individual needs.

While some temperaments are easier to handle then others, parents should know temperament traits, such as adaptability, reactiveness and sociability. This will help your child become the best version of himself in the most effective way possible.

You can help your child develop the positive parts of their temperament. And you can understand the situations that your child might find hard because of their temperament, and help them learn how to handle these situations.

In parenting, if you have a very reactive child, your child is probably a lot of fun when something good happens. But your child might also be loud and dramatic when they’re unhappy about something, like not getting their own way. You might need to help your child learn how to respond more calmly, for instance – by relaxing and using words for angry feelings.

A reactive child is often very physically active and might need lots of time outdoors. You can help your child develop by encouraging them to try new sporting activities. Your child might also need help winding down, so bedtime relaxation can be a good idea.

For a less reactive child, it is usually easy to get along with, but might be less assertive. You might need to help your child learn how to stand up for himself. For instance, if you notice situations where your child could be more assertive, you could get your child to practice handling those situations differently.

It’s also important to make sure less reactive children aren’t left out of family discussions. Let them have a say and ensure you hear from them too.

A child who is less reactive might also be less physically active. Your less active child will be happiest with plenty of opportunities to use their fine motor skills, like doing craft or drawing. But you might need to encourage physical activity.

For a very sociable child, he’ll like being around other people, having play dates and doing group activities. But you don’t have to organise play dates and activities for your child all the time, because it’s also important for your child to learn to occupy himself. Children with more sociable temperaments are also usually very adaptable and can cope with changes to routines quite easily.

If your child isn’t very social, he will probably be quite good at playing by himself and might not need much help finding something to do. But you might need to help this child with making friends. If your child isn’t comfortable in groups or at parties, you could try asking just one or two friends for a playdate at your house or the park.

Children do not choose what their temperament is, and one temperament is not better or worse than the other. Reframing how you describe a child can be powerful for him and you. The easy child is outgoing, the difficult child is determined, and the slow to warm child is observant.

It is therefore important to note that each child is unique, hence helping him make the best of his temperament.

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