Temperament is a set of in-born traits that organize the child's approach to the world

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  • Temperament is a set of in-born traits that organize the child's approach to the world. 

The 9 Temperament Traits Classic child development research conducted by Doctors Chess and Thomas has identified 9 temperamental traits:

Activity Level: 

  • This is the child's "idle speed or how active the child is generally. 

  • Does the infant always wiggle, more squirm?  Is the infant difficult to diaper because of this? 

  • Is the child always on the go?  Or, does the child prefer sedentary quiet activities? 


  • The degree of concentration and paying attention displayed when a child is not particularly interested in an activity. 

  • Is the infant easily distracted by sounds or sights while drinking a bottle?  Is the infant easily soothed when upset by being offered alternate activity? 

  • Does the child become sidetracked easily when attempting to follow routine or working on some activity? 

    • High distractibility is seen as positive when it is easy to divert a child from an undesirable behavior but seen as negative when it prevents the child from finishing school work.


  • Does the infant react strongly and loudly to everything, even relatively minor events? 

  • Does the child show pleasure or upset strongly and dramatically? 

  • Does the child just get quiet when upset? 

Sensory Threshold: 

  • Related to how sensitive this child is to physical stimuli.  It is the amount of stimulation (sounds, tastes, touch, temperature changes) needed to produce a response in the child. 

  • Does the child startle easily to sounds?  Is the child a picky eater or will he eat almost anything? 


  • The trait refers to the predictability of biological functions like appetite and sleep. 

  • Does the child get hungry or tired at predictable times?  Or, is the child unpredictable in terms of hunger and tiredness? 


  • Refers to the child's characteristic response to a new situation or strangers. 

    • Does the child eagerly approach new situations or people?  Or does the child seem hesitant and resistant when faced with new situations, people or things? 


  • Related to how easily the child adapts to transitions and changes, like switching to a new activity. 

    • Does the child have difficulty with changes in routines, or with transitions from one activity to another? 
    • Does the child take a long time to become comfortable to new situations? 


  • This is the length of time a child continues in activities in the face of obstacles. 

    • Does the child continue to work on a puzzle when he has difficulty with it or does he just move on to another activity? 
    • Is the child able to wait to have his needs met?  Does the child react strongly when interrupted in an activity? 


  • This is the tendency to react to the world primarily in a positive or negative way. 

    • Does the child see the glass as half full?  Does he focus on the positive aspects of life? 
    • Is the child generally in a happy mood?  Is the child generally serious? 

Parenting Strategies For Very Intense Children:

  • Parenting Strategies For Very Intense Children:

  • Provide activities that are soothing such as warm bath, massage, water play, stories.

  • Recognize cues that signal that intensity is rising.

  • Help child learn to recognize cues that signal that intensity is rising.

  • Use humor to diffuse intensity.

  • Teach child to use time-out as a time to calm self-down.

  • Avoid escalating intensity of child be reacting intensely to his/her behavior.  Give calm, clear, brief feedback.

Parenting Strategies for Slow-to-Adapt Children:

  • Parenting Strategies for Slow-to-Adapt Children:

  • Establish clear routines.

  • Prepare child by discussing plans for the day when routine changes.

  • Prepare child for transitions.

  • Give warnings a few minutes before transition from one activity to next occurs.

  • Allow time for closure of one activity before going on to next.

  • Stay aware of number of transitions required, and keep transitions to minimum if possible.

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