"Temperament Smart" Parents do Better
  Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D 

 "Temperament smart" parents are those who understand their own temperament and that of their child.  It is not by chance, but by temperament, that one parent believes in being more lenient and the other in being more firm.  Your "parenting style" depends on your temperament, how you were raised, and your knowledge and beliefs about child raising.  So which parenting style is good for your child doesn't depend on what you believe in, what your temperament is, or how you were raised.  It depends simply on one thing, and that is, what temperament type does your child belong to?  

Wouldn't it be wonderful if temperaments of both parents and that of the child matched like the round peg fits in the round hole?  Genetic studies 
show that the average overlap between parent-child temperament is only about 20%.  Usually, children and parents with similar temperament get on well together.  A significant problem arises when the parents and the child belong to temperamental extremes.  When a child is of average temperament, and is energetic and adaptive to new situations, differences in parents' temperaments are less important.  An average temperament child will more easily adjust to the parents' temperament.  

Take for instance, a child who is "intense and slow to adapt."  Both parents also happen to be intense and slow to adapt.  In this scenario, the longer the child takes to adapt to a new situation, the more the parents will become impatient and tough in demanding compliance from the child.  However, the better approach with a child who is intense and slow to adapt would be to introduce a new situation gradually giving the child time to adapt to it.  

Parents, who are aware of their child's temperament and of their own, are less likely to blame themselves or to fight with each other over how to manage a particular problem with regard to their child.  Temperament smart parents also don't get as anxious when their child doesn't follow the normally expected pattern.  For example, they would understand why their highly active and novelty-seeking toddler is curious about the closets and shows absolutely no stranger anxiety. 

The "sensitive" temperament parents are more sympathetic to the needs of a sensitive child who, for example, can't get to sleep because of the noise and presence of unfamiliar guests in the house.  Parents who have highly regulated temperament and like to eat at the same time of the day appreciate a child who also gets hungry on a regular schedule.  A more accommodative parent is likely to get up repeatedly at night to comfort the child who frequently wakes up and cries for longer periods.  The tougher parent might prefer to have the child tough it out and get used to it.  
Here are a few examples of how children of different temperament react to food: "active and fast adapting" children eat anything and snack frequently.  "Intense and slow adapting" children are finicky about changes in food or the meal times.  "Sensitive and withdrawing" children reject all new foods.    

As regards toilet training, active, fast adapting children train early and easily.  Intense and slow adapting children resist strongly if pushed too fast.  Sensitive and withdrawing children may show fear of the potty and/or the bathroom.    
When at play, active and fast adaptive children jump into any and all activities.  Intense and slow adapting children want to be in control of the play.  Sensitive and withdrawing children stay on the periphery and may join gradually and hesitantly.   
When approaching danger, active and fast adapting children show little fear of danger.  Intense and slow adapting children repeatedly and continuously approach the off-limit areas.  Sensitive and withdrawing children avoid dangers completely and need a lot of help and assurance to try new challenges.  Therefore, before you take a firm position how you should handle a particular problem, try to understand your child's temperament and that of your own.   

Return to Self Help

Copyright 1996, Mind Publications

Click for Dr. Sharma's credentials
Dr. Vijai Sharma
Your Life Coach
By Telephone

Feedback- Let us know how we are doing

Terms and Conditions

Web site designed and maintained by Chanda Taylor