Temperament Traits

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Temperament Traits

From Turecki, Stanley, M.D., The Difficult Child,



1. Activity Level - How active or restless is the child, generally, from an early age?

(Ex. Of high: Fidgety, easily over stimulated, always into things, impulsive, loses control, hates to be confined.)


2. Distractibility - How easily is the child distracted? (Ex. of high: trouble concentrating, "doesn't listen" tunes you out, daydreams, forgets instructions,


3. Intensity - How loud and emphatic is the child, whether happy or unhappy? (Ex. of high: loud and forceful, whether miserable, angry or happy.)


4. Regularity - How predictable is the child in his patterns? (general routine, sleep, appetite, mood, bowels, etc.?) (Ex of low: Cannot predict when he will want to eat, sleep, has good or bad days for no apparent reason.)


5. Negative Persistence - How relentless or stubborn is he when he wants something? (Ex of high: stubborn, goes on and on nagging, whining or negotiating, relentless, won't give up - locked in)


6. Sensory Threshold - How does the child react to sensory stimuli: noise, bright lights, colors, smells, pain, warm/cold weather, tastes, texture and feel of clothes? Is he easily bothered or over stimulated? (Ex of low: physically sensitive to color, texture, light, smell, taste, sound, picky eater, does not like the feel of certain clothes, etc.)


7. Approach - What is the child's initial response to newness places, people, foods or clothes? (Ex of low: withdrawn, shy and reserved with new people, doesn't like new situations, may tantrum or become passive aggressive if forced to go forward.)


8. Adaptability - How does the child deal with transition and change? (Ex of low: trouble w/change, gets used to things and won't give them up, trouble adapting to anything unfamiliar, strongly held routines.)


9. Mood - What is the child's basic disposition? Is it more "sunny or happy go lucky" or more serious and negative? (Ex of negative: serious or cranky most of the time doesn't openly show pleasure,)



The OSU College of Family Relations and Human Development uses these guidelines when describing temperament:


1. Activity: Is the child always moving and doing something OR does he or she have a more relaxed style?


2. Regularity/Rhythmicity: Is the child regular in his or her eating and sleeping habits OR somewhat haphazard?


3. Approach/withdrawal: Does he or she "never meet a stranger" OR tend to shy away from new people or things?


4. Adaptability: Can the child adjust to changes in routines or plans easily or does he or she resist transitions?


5. Intensity; Does he or she react strongly to situations, either positive or negative.

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