Temperament refers to our in-born (not learned) behavioral style. We all come into the world with a unique set of temperamental characteristics that remain stable throughout our lifetime. These characteristics modulate how we respond to every situation in our lives.
Understanding our own temperament as parents and teachers and the temperament of our children is incredibly helpful in being the best we can be and in bringing out the best in our children.
In our experience, understanding the concept of temperament and applying that knowledge to ourselves as parents and teachers and to those around us helps us to better understand behavior…struggles, failures, and successes.
In fact, failure to understand a child’s temperament and the role it plays in his behavior and performance can be a major source of frustration for parents and teachers. In our model, there are nine dimensions of temperament and we all fall somewhere along a continuum for each one. The ranges for these continuums are presented in upcoming blog posts for each temperamental trait. It is important to know that where an individual falls along this continuum for any given temperamental trait is neither good nor bad…it just is!
In fact, the same temperamental trait (e.g., being very intense) that is helpful to us in one situation may interfere with our behavior or performance in another.
A key goal should be to understand our temperament and the temperament of the children we live and work with. We need to critically consider how any extreme temperamental traits might be contributing to problems in performance, behavior, or social interaction. When temperamental extremes do interfere with performance, behavior or social interaction, we need to learn how best to work around or control these extremes.
Therefore, when we suspect that an ADD/ADHD child’s temperamental characteristics play a role in his failure to meet an expectation at school, we know we must develop some type of accommodation to address this contribution.
For greater detail and worksheets to guide you in discovering your child’s (and your own!) temperament and how to make those traits work positively for you, purchase Dr. Liden’s book, Accommodations for Success.