You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

A little of this and a lot of that….what makes up your child’s personality?

Can you tell they have different temperaments??  The parenting technique that worked for one, didn’t necessarily work for the other!

Over the next few days, let’s look at the 9 personality traits that make up each of our temperaments.  I know I can pick out myself in these traits and my children.  Remember a parent must work hard at parenting according to a child’s temperament.  The rules in our house were always the same, the approach with each child may have been a bit different.

1.  Activity Level

Remember most young children are busy.  Your child’s activity level should be compared to other children of the same age.  How active is your child in general?  Does your infant always wiggle and move?  Is it difficult to change a diaper?  Is your child in perpetual motion or does your child prefer quiet activities and is content “watching the world”?

Parenting the active child:

Your child is not moving and fidgeting to annoy you!  This is how your child is wired.  Give your child lots of time for active play every day.  Be creative in looking for ways to allow your child to “blow off steam”.  When your child has had plenty of energy outlets, then he or she will be able to be calmer when needed.

  • Offer a safe environment for an active child to explore his or her world
  • Daily activities liking getting dressed may be easier when allowing your child to help
  • Plan ahead to allow your child physical activity before quiet times
  • Do not set unrealistic expectations of long periods of quiet sitting.  Keep a bag of quiet activities for use when you are in need for “quiet sitting”.
  • Active children often learn best by using action and their senses, be your child’s advocate with teachers…..let teachers know ahead of time that your child has an active temperament.  A child with who simply has an active temperament should not be labeled hyperactive!

Parenting the less active child:

Parenting the quieter less active child can be challenging too.

  • Slowly introduce activities that involve action.
  • Engage your child in an activity by demonstrating first, or by having him or her watch another child.
  • Allow for extra time for a less active child to get organized and moving in the morning.
  • Encourage healthy activity.  Many less active children are not naturally inclined to participate in sports.

2.  Distractibility

This is the amount of concentration that child shows when he or she is not particularly interested in an activity. Is your baby distracted when you are nursing or feeding a bottle by noises and sites around him or her?  Is your toddler or preschooler sidetracked by every bug, bird, or even his or her own thoughts or daydreams?

Distractibility shows how easily other stimuli will disrupt a child.  Remember that children in general are distractible….this is always in comparison to other same aged children.  This trait can be a positive when it is easy for a parent to distract a child from an undesirable behavior, but it can also be a negative when a child is so distracted he or she cannot finish tasks.

Parenting a distractible child:

  • Be sure that you have your child’s full attention when talking.  Do not shout instructions from the next room, make good eye contact.
  • Keep instructions simple and to the point.
  • Redirect gently…..”Got your shoes on yet?”
  • Be sure to decrease external stimuli when you see your child is distracted or overwhelmed.
  • Remove external distractions like the TV when you are trying to help your child focus.
  • Break up tasks into manageable pieces.
  • Give breaks when the child’s distraction level increases when trying to stay on task.
  • Be your child’s advocate with teachers, let them know ahead of time about your child’s temperament

Parenting the less distractible child:

  • Be sure to give your child a break, children that are very focused often will not stop an activity on their own.
  • Make sure you have eye contact when speaking or giving direction to your child.  A very focused child may not hear a parent.
  • Give a warning to your child when it is about time to switch activities.  “We will need to put away the book in just a moment so we can get ready to leave.”  Children that are very focused will often melt down when changing activities.

3.  Intensity of emotional response

Intensity is the level of response a child has to situations.  Does your child react big to everything?  Does your child’s cry escalate?  Does the whole world know when your child is happy, excited, or sad?

Is your child’s reactions mild?  Do you have to guess what your child is feeling?  Is your child mellow?

Parenting an emotionally intense child:

When a child is very emotionally intense, often a parent responds the same way.  If a child is screaming with a tantrum, this may result in you yelling too.  This often just causes the child to escalate. A quiet response will help an intense child learn control.  An emotionally intense child can be exhausting!

  • Help your child learn to express emotions in an acceptable way.  Give young children ways to express anger or frustration, especially a child that does not have many words yet.  Try letting a child stomp their feet or hit an “angry” pillow.
  • Introduce new experiences slowly this will help an emotionally intense child feel more control and prevent a meltdown.
  •  Big reactors tend to react to physical stimulation too, so try to keep their little world calm when a child starts to escalate.
  • When you are feeling angry, stop.  Stop yelling, talking, and moving.  Take a break so you don’t increase your child’s reaction
  • Put some space between you and your child.  Use time out for you to  take a break too!

Parenting a child that is less intense:

A child that is not emotionally intense can be challenging too.  Often these children are hard for a parent to read.  They do not express their feelings well, so they tend to withdraw, mope, or be moody.  These children need help learning how to express how they feel.

  • Describe what your child is feeling.  “It is so frustrating when the tower keeps falling over!”
  •  Discuss different feelings, read books about feelings.
  • Older children especially need to be drawn out; do not let older school age children or teens mope and withdraw.  Give them tools to talk about their feelings.

4.  Regularity

This trait shows a parent how scheduled a child needs to be.  Does your child need to eat and nap at very predictable times or can your child “go with the flow” a bit more.  How flexible is your child?

Parenting the regular rhythm child:

  • This child does best with regular meals, nap times, and bedtime.
  • Keep things predictable.
  • Plan outings and activities around your child’s regular routine.

Parenting the less regular child

  • Routine is still important for a less regular or more flexible child.  Maintain a consistent schedule, but allow flexibility.
  • Have a regular bedtime, but allow for your child to read quietly in bed.  Do not force rigid sleep patterns.
  • Relax when your child is off schedule, less regular children adapt easily!

Look for tips on the other 5 personality traits tomorrow!!!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.



  1. Mary Ellen

    This is a great post Cindy! The nine categories are a great way to organize thinking about children. This seems helpful for parents and can also be helpful for educators!


    • Thanks, Mary Ellen! I always tell parents to know their child’s temperament and then be their child’s advocate…tell teachers the best way to reach their child! Enjoy your time off!


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