Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

What is temperament in child development?

two siblings paying inside a box

Key points:

  1. Temperament is innate and part of the unique wiring of each individual’s brain, separate from parenting skills.
  2. Temperament is made up of nine key characteristics, including activity level, adaptability, and attention span.
  3. Understanding your child’s temperament can help you appreciate their uniqueness and make parenting decisions that help them adapt and thrive.
  4. The goal as a parent is not to change your child’s temperament but to accept them for who they are and help them adapt to their environment.

Why are some children easy going and others are, what we might call, more “challenging”? Why are siblings so different from one another? It all comes down to temperament.

Temperament is innate, something we are born with. It’s part of the unique wiring of each individual’s brain. Your child did not choose their temperament, and they are not the way they are because of something you did or did not do –although the experiences and interactions with other people during the early years could modify it.

By the school years, your child’s temperament will be well defined and easily detected by those who know them. It probably won’t change a lot in the future. As we mentioned before, these characteristics are innate, something your child is born with, and are separate from your own parenting skills. However, the way your little one adjusts to their environment does depend a lot upon the interaction between their temperament and yours, and how the people around them respond to them. A child that is comfortable in their environment and the people around them thrives!


According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are nine key characteristics that make up temperament.

  • Activity level: What’s your child’s level of physical activity in day to day life? Are they restless or fidgety, or more calm?
  • Rhythmicity or regularity: Do they have a consistent pattern for basic physical functions such as appetite, sleep, and bowel habits?
  • Approach and withdrawal: How does your child initially respond to a new stimulus? Are they rapid and bold, or slow and hesitant to warm up to it? It can be people, situations, places, foods, changes in routines, or other transitions.
  • Adaptability: How easily does your little one adjust to change or a new situation? Can they modify their reaction well?
  • Intensity: With what energy level does your child regularly respond to a positive or negative situation?
  • Mood: Is your child generally pleasant or unfriendly in the way they communicate and act? What’s their general mood like?
  • Attention span: Is your child able to concentrate or stay with a task, with or without distraction?
  • Distractibility: How easily can they be distracted from a task by environmental stimuli?
  • Sensory threshold: How much does your child need to be stimulated for a response? Some children respond to the slightest stimulation, and others require intense amounts.

By being aware of some of the characteristics of temperament, you can understand your child in another level, learn to accept them, and, more importantly, appreciate their uniqueness. Then, starting from that point, you can deal with problems in a way that is more sensitive to them, fostering a healthy social and emotional development.

Keep your child’s temperament in mind when you make parenting decisions. The goal is not to change them, but to help them adapt and thrive. Make sure you let them know you accept them for who they are through your words and actions.

Related Articles

spring activities for preschoolers
Kinedu Educators

4 Spring Activities for Preschoolers

Spring activities for preschoolers can play a significant role in the overall development of children. Through playful exploration of nature,…

newborn care immediately after birth
Health Guide

Essential Newborn Care

The birth of a baby is a moment of great emotion and joy for parents and, at the same time,…

signs of colic in babies
Health Guide

Signs of Colic in Babies

Colic is a common disorder in babies, characterized by intense, prolonged crying for no apparent reason. This can be very…

3 Responses

  1. I don’t see anything wrong with using the male gender in this article and also appreciate using a mix of both genders in your articles. In my opinion, Feminism has been over flogged and has digressed from its initial purpose, part of which is to provide equal opportunities for both sexes. A mix of both is healthy. Please continue in this fashion. Thank you.
    P.S: Focus on the message, alienate distractions.

  2. I hate that you chose a boy as the example and didn’t just make it gender neutral. Distracts from the article

    1. Hello Magdalena! We use both pronouns in our blog, you will find other articles using a girl as an example =). Thanks for your comment!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.