Behavior & Environment

Honoring and Embracing a Child’s Temperament

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Every child is born with a particular temperament. Ask any parent and you’ll hear stories about who their child is at their core. They share things like “He’s been an anxious kid from day one,” or “She’s always been a laid-back kid. Things that upset other kids just roll off her back.” Although kids are born with innate traits, those traits can be influenced by parents, caregivers, and other important people in the child’s life along with the child’s many life experiences.

As caregivers, we can honor a child’s temperament by designing an environment that supports who they are while teaching them the skills they need to manage the challenges they may face.

1. Transitions

Some kids breeze through transitions like they’re no big deal, and others really struggle to close one segment of the day and comfortably move into the next. By observing our kids, we can identify their specific challenges with transitions and provide additional time, help them read cues properly, let them know in detail what to expect, and whatever else they need to effectively transition in their own unique way.

2. Processing

Every child processes conversations and situations at different speeds and in different ways. Some can quickly understand what is happening, what is expected, and what they should do next. Others are just confused by it all and need our help to untangle the information and navigate it all successfully. We can support kids in processing life’s everyday situations by teaching them to ask for more time when needed, to look for and identify clues from others, and by giving them a safe space to learn how to put it all together.

3. Self-Acceptance

Often society labels certain traits as bad, unacceptable, or unwanted. Kids are too often pushed to somehow change who they are to better fit into what we label as good or acceptable. You can send a different message. You can show your anxious, fidgety, socially awkward, reactive, strong-willed, or other negatively labeled child that they’re perfect just as they are.

When thinking about a child’s temperament, it isn’t about getting rid of a troublesome trait. It’s about embracing the trait and seeing it through a different lens.