Baby Temperament-Consider a scenario where there are twin babies:
- The first baby temperament is calm and quiet. He/she observes everything in their surroundings, but rarely demands for attention. Looking at the daily routine, he/she sleeps for longer period of time and has good healthy eating habits.
- The second baby however is fussy and startles easily. While most new-borns sleep fourteen hours a day, this one only sleeps for ten, and wakens whenever there’s the slightest noise or activity nearby. Baby’s eating habits is also quite infrequent.
Reading this might make you think that the second baby temperament has some issue but that is not the case. One is no better than the other one, both are absolutely healthy and portray normal behavior. The only difference lies in their personalities and temperament. So, the two of them, although raised by the same parents, need to be treated very differently right from the moment of their births.
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Like these babies, your child or infant must also demonstrate unique traits in their personality right from the time it came into this world. Discovering these traits is one of the most exciting parts of having a new baby. Is he/she active and responsive, or relatively slow-going? Or are they she reluctant when faced with a new situation? The more you pay attention to these signals and learn to respond appropriately to these unique innate traits, the calmer and more predictable your life as a parent will be in times to come.
Baby Temperament refers to the part of the personality they are born with and also how they react to the world. Personality is often innate, but can be influenced by an individual’s family, culture or their experiences as well. There are certain traits, which observed properly, can aid us in understanding the child’s behaviour.
Activity level refers to how physically active, restlessness or fidgety behavior that a child demonstrates in daily activities. Children who have a high activity level may switch quickly from one activity to another, as they might get easily bored. So, parent need to involve them in activities which gives them a chance to burn more calories, because during slow or quiet activities they may have trouble sitting still. Well in case of children with lower activity levels, they might choose activities that are quieter and calmer. Comparatively, they will not have quite as much energy to burn during their daily activities.
This refers to the regularity of a child’s daily routine including sleeping patterns, eating habits, etc. Having a regular biological rhythm means doing the same activities on a daily basis, which makes a child behaviour predictable and easy to handle. But having an irregular biological rhythm makes it challenging for the children to stick to same routines every day. Parents would have to work on their schedule to accommodate their child’s need, which will eventually help the kid to build on its own temperament.
It is a child’s ability to concentrate on the task given, without getting distracted by some stimulus. Those stimuli are usually visual or auditory. Children having shorter attention span may need more parents’ attention to remain focus on a task, as compared to children with higher attention span. Some people find those children to be rude as they keep on shifting their interest, but we should keep this in mind they are just more attuned to noticing things happening around them.
Intensity of Reaction
This refers to a child’s energy level with which they react to any situation. More intense children will have strong reactions to both positive and negative situation. This may seem drastic but the parents need to understand that this is just their temperament and help them learn to express such strong emotions in a more acceptable way. Children with low intensity, show restraint and mild reactions toward the situations. This makes it difficult for the parents to comprehend their child’s emotions, so they should often communicate and pick up on cues on stay in tuned with their emotions.
Approach and Withdrawal
This characteristic refers to a child’s ability to get accustomed to new people, situations, places, food etc. Approaching children are open to trying new things and show little to no hesitation. Parents need to show support by giving them more opportunities to explore and nourish their behaviour. Children with withdrawing nature are unwilling and hesitant towards new situation. They may need more time than others to warm up to new things. Due to this, parent needs to give their children more space and time to settle on their own terms and not pressured into it.
Adaptability means a child’s ability to adapt and modify their reactions according to the requirement of the situation. Adaptable children seem easier going and shows no hesitation when they have to switch between things. Children who are less adaptable will have a harder time than others, as they might react strongly when asked to transition between any activity. Parent need to give them warnings so that they know what to expect in their daily routine, to avoid their outbursts.
Going through the characteristic gives us a rough idea that no temperament is right or wrong. You can not categorize a child behaviour to fit into the categories set by the society’s norms. Temperament may be innate at first but is highly influential by the environment provided by the primary caregivers which mostly are the parents and culture in which they are brought up. The relation between a child and their parent becomes increasingly important as the baby gets older and develops his/her personality. Understanding your child’s temperament helps you be a better parent. Recognizing patterns in your child’s behavior that are influenced by temperament can help you anticipate your child’s responses to certain situations.
Remember, the goal isn’t to change your baby temperament, but to help him or her make the most of their unique temperament, both its strengths and the areas where they may need more support.