This is the final segment of The Approaches to Learning Domain and Temperament blog series.
Working with children requires that caregivers understand that each child is different, and an individual. As such, each child will have their own unique way of interacting with the world around them based on their internal temperament. It is important to think about the positive aspects of all three temperament types, as well as what strategies to use for success.
The case of the easy or flexible child: This child usually responds to the world around him/her in an easy manner. They address challenges and change with little anxiety.
• This child can easily ‘fall through the cracks’ because of demands made by more intense children.
• Make sure to intentionally ask for this child’s ideas and feelings when making decisions.
The case of the difficult or challenging child: This child tends to react to the world negatively and with high intensity. Fussiness as a baby, temper tantrums as a toddler make way to explosive, stubborn and intense behaviors as a preschooler. This child may have difficulty adjusting to new situations so school is especially trying for them.
• Provide clear, consistent boundaries. This will help avoid power struggles, gentle yet firm.
• Provide the basics – children need enough sleep and the right foods to cope best; love and positive attention
• Focus on strengths, look for positives. It is always better to build on the positive behaviors than the negative. Avoid name-calling and labels – they tear down self-esteem.
The case of the slow to warm up or cautious child: This child may have moods of mild intensity but not usually negative. Babies may be fussy but not as intense as the difficult or challenging child. They adapt slowly to unfamiliar experiences and people, they tend to withdraw in unfamiliar circumstances.
• Provide gentle, easy introductions to new activities, places, circumstances and people.
• Allow children to try a new activity many times in order to feel confident, don’t rush through things or push them into doing it ‘right now’.
• Avoid startling the baby or child, soothing music, sounds and lights can help.
Resource: How can I better understand my child’s temperament? Healthy Children; available online at http://www.HealthyChildren.org