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Disciplining your child | Your parenting style | Your child's temperament |

Your child's temperament

Every child is different and has a different personality

Each child is born with different traits ("temperament"). These affect how a child will learn about the world, interact with people and react to new places and things. Your child's personality will be shaped by these traits along with life experiences.

What are the different types of temperaments?

Two Boys

Most children are a combination of different types of temperaments. It's important to know your child's temperament(s) so you can make sure you use the approach that matches your child's personality. As the parent, be aware of the way you respond to the world around you, too, because your kids are watching and learning from you.

You may notice your own children have completely different temperaments, which means what worked for your first born may not work for younger child. This is normal – so try not to compare your kids.

Take a look at the three types of temperaments and some tips that you can use with your own kids.

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Easy or flexible

Your child may be:

  • Calm, happy and not easily upset.
  • Regular in sleeping and eating habits.
  • Able to adapt to changes easily.

Here are some tips:

  • Set aside special times to talk to your child about his frustrations and hurts because your child may not share these feelings on his own.
  • You may need to encourage your child to be a leader and not always a follower.

Spirited active, or feisty

Your child may be:

  • Easily upset by noises or disturbances.
  • Fussy quite often.
  • Irregular in sleeping or eating habits.
  • Likely to react to things very intensely.

Here are some tips:

  • Give your child a play area so he can work off his built-up energy and frustrations.
  • Pay attention to his emotions and teach him how to recognize his feelings.
  • Calm your child down with soothing activities like a warm bath, story or massage.
  • Teach your child how to calm himself (i.e. by taking deep breaths).
  • Use humour to lighten up the mood.
  • Prepare your child about an upcoming change by talking to him about it.
  • Be a positive role model for your child in the way you handle new situations.
  • Stay calm and don't overreact.

Slow to warm up or cautious

Your child may be:

  • Fussy some of the time.
  • Less active.
  • Likely to shy away from or dislike new situations.

Here are some tips:

  • Stick to a consistent routine and keep changes to a minimum.
  • Talk about your plans for the day.
  • Let your child know in advance when the activity he's doing is going to end - you may need to give a few warnings, 10 minutes before, 5 minutes before and 1 minute before.
  • Don't schedule too many activities in a day this can become stressful for your child.
  • When you arrive at a new place, give your child enough time to watch what's going on and who else is there.

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For more information:

Region of Peel - Public Health
905-799-7700
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
to speak with a Public Health Nurse

Caledon residents call free of charge at 905-584-2216


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Revised: Wednesday January 16 2013

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