ADD/ADHD Behavior Management Help for Parents and Teachers

image via Flickr, Rober Arévalo

image via Flickr, Rober Arévalo

How can parents, teachers, and childcare providers best manage behavior in children with ADD?

There is no simple technique that is effective in managing all children with ADD. Each child is unique and requires an individualized approach to promoting positive behavior change.

It begins with first really knowing who the child is and then setting realistic expectations.

When we discipline ourselves to do these two things, we minimize the likelihood that difficulties arise in the first place. Furthermore, when we reflect upon the child’s unique characteristics and set realistic expectations based upon these characteristics we equip ourselves with information essential to managing problems when they do occur:

STEP 1. Knowing who the child is

To understand the child’s unique pattern of individual characteristics, we must reflect on the answers to the following questions:

  • What are his strong and weak skills?
  • What are his attentional characteristics?
  • What are his physical abilities and limitations?
  • What stresses is he facing in his life?
  • What are his basic attitudes and beliefs?
  • How does he feel about himself?
  • Who are the significant people in his life?

STEP 2. Setting realistic expectations

Based upon the child’s unique pattern of individual characteristics, we must identify the appropriate expectations for academic achievement, social interaction, and independent functioning.

Encourage Independent Functioning

Only when these two steps have occurred can we effectively manage behavior, promote responsibility, and encourage independent functioning.

image via Flickr, Brad Flickinger

image via Flickr, Brad Flickinger

When problems emerge, we should take the actions described below (steps 3, 4, and 5) to ensure that individualized, effective management occurs.

These steps include determining the factors which are contributing to the problem, developing a plan which takes these factors into consideration, putting the plan into action, seeing what happens, and making changes in the plan as necessary:

 STEP 3. Determining the factors that are contributing to the problem behavior

To do this, we use our knowledge about the child’s unique characteristics to determine the following:

  • What specific expectation did the child fail to meet?
  • What characteristics of the child contributed to this failure/the problem?
  • What aspects of the child’s life circumstances contributed to the problem?

STEP 4. Developing a plan and putting it into action

In order to develop an action plan, we must reflect and act on the answers to the following questions:

  • Given who the child is and the factors contributing to the problem, does the expectation need to be modified? If yes, then how?
  • How is the expectation(s) best communicated to the child so that he understands it?
  • What can the child do, think, or say to increase the likelihood he will be successful in meeting the expectation?
  • What should happen if the child fails to meet the expectation; that is, should there be a consequence and what should it be?

STEP 5. Seeing what happens and making changes in the plan when necessary

image via Flickr, Simply CVR

image via Flickr, Simply CVR

We must reflect on the success of the plan; that is, we must determine whether or not the child is now behaving more appropriately. If he is not, we must identify what went wrong by answering the following questions and revising the action plan accordingly:

  • Were the expectations unrealistic?
  • Was the identified set of contributing factors inaccurate or incomplete?
  • Was the action plan–the method of communicating expectations, the structuring the environment, the child’s strategy, and the use of consequences–ineffective?

You’re not alone in struggling to identify and cope with the behavior challenges of ADD/ADHD!  Parenting and teaching children with Attention Deficit Disorder requires extra reserves of patience, reflection, and determination.  If you found hope in these questions, Dr. Liden provides more detailed guidance in his book, Accommodations for Success: A Guide and Workbook for Creating 504 Agreements and IEP’s for Children with ADD/ADHD.

Do We Need Special Classes for Kids with ADD?

image via Flickr, Jirka Matousek

image via Flickr, Jirka Matousek

The benefits of special classes or tutoring for kids with ADD…

All children, particularly those who are distractible, can benefit from the low teacher to student ratios that are characteristic of special classes and tutoring services.

Furthermore, some children with ADD require tutoring or special education services when their skill deficiencies in reading, spelling, writing, or math interfere with satisfactory academic progress.

…On the flip side, how special services can harm rather than help…

However, associated learning problems seen in children with ADD are often the result of inattention rather than basic skill deficits. When this is the case, academic performance improves as attentional weaknesses are appropriately treated.

Therefore, quickly jumping to tutoring or special education services when academic problems arise can temporarily cover-up the underlying attention problem.

When this band-aid approach is used, the problem inevitably resurfaces in a magnified form later.


Have you found special classes or tutoring have helped or hindered your child?

Looking for a comprehensive, action-oriented guide to navigating the confusing and often frustrating IEP or 504 Agreement process?  Dr. Liden’s Accommodation for Success is the answer you’ve been hoping to find!  Get a copy for yourself or a friend.  No better gift you can give than a guide to school success!

How a Teacher makes a difference with an ADD Student

image via Flickr, Ilmicrofono Oggiono

image via Flickr, Ilmicrofono Oggiono

The educator’s role is similar to the role parents assume in treating ADD.

It begins by learning to understand and accept the problem, rather than making superficial judgments about the child such as “bad,” “lazy,” or “underachieving.”

A primary responsibility of school personnel and childcare workers is to function as team members in treating ADD. This involves setting appropriate expectations, clearly stating limits for behavior, giving feedback, providing effective consequences, reinforcing self-awareness and self-control, and communicating regularly with parents.

In addition, professionals in schools and childcare settings can help to develop and implement compensatory strategies and to identify and remediate associated learning problems.

As team members situated in the structured school environment, teachers and other educational personnel are in an ideal position to monitor the effectiveness of the other treatments (e.g., medical therapy, counseling, etc).

It is also possible for professionals in a childcare setting to provide help with the monitoring of various treatments.

While educators are essential team members, it is never appropriate for them to diagnose ADD or to recommend or modify medical therapies. These are medical decisions that must be made by an experienced physician in consultation with others.


Dr. Liden examines the vital roles parents and teachers play in his book, Accommodations for Success.  The 10-Step book gives parents power to create a highly personalized, effective IEP or 504 Plan.

Does Your Age Matter in ADD Medications?

At what age can you start using ADD/ADHD medications?

image via Flickr, David Robert Bliwas

image via Flickr, David Robert Bliwas

None of these medications have a formal “indication” (i.e., approval by the FDA) for use in children under the age of 6 years. However, experienced physicians like myself are frequently called upon to evaluate and treat preschoolers. Oftentimes, these are some of the most challenging situations.

Children who present with ADD at this age often have profound attentional weaknesses that are associated with extreme temperamental traits and significant developmental delays.

In my experience, if the attentional component of these children’s problems is not treated with medication, it is unlikely progress can be made to correct or remediate other associated difficulties.

Therefore, in many of these circumstances, I have carefully and successfully used the stimulants and the non-stimulant, Strattera. I have had particular success using the stimulants Dexedrine and Dextrostat in ADD preschoolers who have associated language delays. Because children at this age generally can’t swallow pills, it may be necessary to use medications like Metadate that can be sprinkled on food. It is my opinion that only the most experienced clinicians should take on this difficult population.

Equally challenging are those ADD preschoolers whose behaviors are difficult to distinguish from normal. Some degree of distractibility, short attention span, and impulsivity can be the norm in children 3 to 6 years.

When is it a problem?

Do we just wait and hope he grows out of it?

Does failure to identify and begin treatment put the child at risk for learning failure, behavior control difficulty, poor peer relationships, and low self-esteem?

These are difficult questions. Again, my bias is that they require the expertise of a physician highly experienced with ADD. If, after a thorough evaluation, such a clinician is able to make the diagnosis of ADD, then there is no good reason to delay treatment with these medications.

Can these medications be used in adults with ADD?

image via Flickr, Steve Wilson

image via Flickr, Steve Wilson

All of the medications used to treat ADD are just as effective in adults as they are in children and adolescents. The underlying biological differences that cause the symptoms of ADD remain relatively stable from childhood through adult life.

Therefore, it makes sense that if the medications can help correct these differences in childhood, they should be able to do the same in adults.

At the present time, Strattera is the only medication that has a formal indication for use in adults. However, all of the stimulants have been used safely for many years in the treatment of ADD adults.

Obviously, the dosage levels required for adults are often different from those that are effective for children. Similarly, some of the side effects children and adults experience are different. In all other respects, however, use of these medications is the same in adults and children.


You’re not alone if you’re nervous about ADD/ADHD medication.  Public debate, often fueled by bias and misinformation, has stirred up a cloud of fear around effective medication treatment options.  In our practice, we’ve seen time and again that medication can be a powerful tool in treating ADD.  Don’t miss 7 Keys to Successful (and Safe) Medication Treatment for ADD!

No Pill, No Problem: Why I Denied My Son Had ADD/ADHD

image via Flickr, Angel Breton

image via Flickr, Angel Breton

There has been a great deal of heated public debate about the use and misuse of medication in the treatment of ADD. This debate has been clouded by intense reactions rooted in strong attitudes, beliefs, and misconceptions. As a result, many people, unnecessarily, fear the use of medication. It is my hope that an objective, comprehensive, and responsible discussion of medication will open some closed minds, dispel fears, calm anxiety, provide new perspectives, and clarify misunderstanding.

If the medications are so important, what stands in the way of people using them?

In my experience, one of the most common reasons people hesitate to use medication in the treatment of ADD is lack of acceptance.

There is no escaping the fact that you have a problem when you take a pill for it and, frankly, nobody wants to have a problem.

In my own circumstance, I saw the signs of ADD in my older son when he was 9 months old, but the words “Attention Deficit Disorder” didn’t touch my lips until he was 9 years old!  This was a reflection of my struggle with acceptance . . . he looked perfectly normal on the outside and I didn’t want him to have a problem on the inside. I wrote off his impulsivity and distractibility as immaturity or his being “all boy.”  In turn, I constantly nagged him and tightly structured every part of his life. By the time he finally got proper treatment with medication, I had inadvertently contributed to deflating his self-esteem.

When one of the most important people in your life is repeatedly saying, “You could do better if you tried harder” and despite your best efforts, you don’t measure up, you’re left thinking you must be either “lazy” or “stupid.”

So, by allowing things to get to the “last resort” before using medication, we run the risk of contributing to the development of a vicious failure cycle. The resulting low self-esteem and poor motivation make effective treatment much more difficult.

Furthermore, without the medication as an aide, the ADD individual is at high risk for over-relying on his parents, spouse, teachers, boss, and others in his life for reminders and structuring.  This promotes an unhealthy co-dependency and enables the ADD individual to avoid taking responsibility for his behavior.

Get Help for ADD in School

School Success for ADD | The Being Well Center

image via Flickr, Jekino Educatie

There are two ways that students with ADD may receive support and accommodations in school. When ADD severely impacts upon learning and academic performance, the child may be eligible for Special Educational services through IEP law.

When a parent believes a child is struggling academically, the first step is to express his concerns to the building principal or guidance counselor. I always recommend that the parent put his concerns and a formal request for a thorough evaluation in writing addressed to the principal. In my experience, it is important that the parent keep a copy of all written documents for himself; creating a paper trail may be critical in insuring future educational accommodations for the child.

After a formal evaluation by qualified school personnel, the child with ADD may meet the criteria for being identified as learning disabled, emotionally disturbed or “other health impaired” and therefore qualify for special education services. At that point, parents and school personnel work together to define in writing an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) to meet the unique educational needs of the child.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that any institution receiving federal fund must make accommodations for people with recognized disabilities. Because ADD is such a recognized disability, children with ADD are eligible for accommodations in any federally funded school.

Accommodations in school include allotment of extra time to complete tasks and tests, use of teacher signed assignment book, preferential seating and increased frequency of feedback to parents.

The first step in pursuing accommodations under Section 504 is for the parent to express his concerns and accommodations request verbally and in writing to the principal, guidance counselor, or, in college, the disabilities services office. As the appropriate accommodations are defined, it is important that they be formalized in writing; this ensures compliance, accountability, and future accommodations.

Are there other services available for the ADD child who experiences difficulties despite the usual interventions?

image via Flickr, Bart Everson

image via Flickr, Bart Everson

When ADD severely compromises the child’s functioning at home and school despite intervention, he may be eligible for Wrap-Around or Therapeutic Staff Support (TSS) services through the county or state mental health department.

These services assume different names and forms across the country and are dependent upon the unique needs of the child. For some children, the service involves access to a trained support person in the home to help with behavior management and independent functioning. For others, it involves having a support person accompany the child to each of his classes to facilitate his meeting school expectations.

While it varies from state to state, access to these kinds of services generally require the child be assigned a mental health or medical assistance case manager and to participate in additional comprehensive testing. I recommend to parents whose child can benefit from these services to begin the process by contacting the county or state mental health office.


Accommodations for Success | Dr. LidenIf you’re ready to secure educational support for your child, you will find Dr. Liden’s book, Accommodations for Success, invaluable.  Dr. Liden walks you through every step necessary to get the customized support you need for your child to achieve and succeed.

ADD: High Risk for Poor Communication?

ADD and Poor Communication | The Being Well Center

image via Flickr, Jesper Sachmann

Good attention is critical for efficient communication. In order to understand a message–to break it down and to process the elements–we must first pay attention to it. Similarly, to generate a response, we must focus on our own thoughts, translate them into words and sentences, organize them into a coherent message, and reflect on their appropriateness.

Attentional weaknesses, therefore, place the individual with ADD at high risk for poor communication skills.

The requirements for effective communication are at odds with the characteristics of ADD. Poor focus, distractibility, and short attention span lead the person with ADD to miss, get only part of, or totally misinterpret messages. The result is that he is frequently in a position where he must ask for repetition, request clarification, fake his understanding, or present himself as “out in left field.” Further, impulsivity, distractibility, and poor monitoring lead the person with ADD to produce messages that are disorganized, incomplete, and characterized by on-going revision.

Throughout the process of communicating, we must forever monitor our language and our behavior in order to be certain that we adhere to the unstated rules of communication such as being polite and using appropriate body language. This represents one of the biggest challenges for the person with ADD as these rules are rarely, if ever, explicitly taught.

Generally, we learn communication rules by paying attention!

We watch the people around us follow the rules and see the subtle signals we get when we break the rules. These critical rules include the following:

  • Take turns while you talk.
  • Do not monopolize the conversation.
  • Look at the person to whom you are listening or talking.
  • Talk on the topic.
  • Talk politely to adults.
  • Do not interrupt.
  • When changing the topic, introduce the change.
  • Let the person who is talking know that you are listening, that you understand, and that you are interested.
  • Carry your share of the conversation.
ADD and Poor communication | The Being Well Center

image via Flickr, Bruce Wunderlich

Because he has failed to learn the rules of the game, a person with ADD is frequently behind the eight ball even before the conversation begins!

For a person with ADD who has learned the rules, the challenge is no less–following the rules of communication, even when they are known, requires constant and efficient impulse control, filtering, and monitoring.


Successful treatment of ADD includes addressing all areas of an individual’s life, including communication.  Dr. Liden has been helping patients overcome the challenges of ADD through conscientious medication and creative approaches to life coaching for the past 30 years.  A more in-depth exploration of ADD/ADHD can be found in Dr. Liden’s best-selling book, Pay Attention!

 

Boost Creativity by Treating ADD

Are people with ADD more creative and does medication treatment interfere with creativity?

 

image via Flickr, telmo32

image via Flickr, telmo32

There is a fine line between creativity and impulsivity and distractibility.

When it comes to having new and unique ideas, there is something to say for the ADD population.

The rub, however, is that the impulsivity and distractibility that work together to promote the free flow of ideas usually combine with poor focus, inefficient monitoring, and short attention span to prevent even the best ideas from going anywhere.

In my experience, successful treatment allows the creative ADD mind to be focused, reflective, purposeful and planful enough so that the ideas it generates have a chance to become something in the real world.

To illustrate the difference successful treatment can make in the life of someone with ADD, let us introduce you to one of our patients, who we will call “Kory.”

Kory’s Story

medication add diagnosisWe first met Kory when he was 8 years old and in the second grade. At that time, he was making life miserable for his family, his teacher, and his peers. His parents described life with him as “bedlam.” Chaos and disruption seemed to happen whenever he was around. The same scenario seemed to play itself out at each and every social event Kory and his family attended. Without apparent reason, Kory started to “act-up.” His parents quietly scolded him. As Kory continued, his parents repeated their reprimand with hushed intensity. Kory explosively retaliated, physically and verbally. Startled, others stared in their direction. Angry and embarrassed, the family prematurely called it an evening. In response to this recurring scenario, family members began to walk on eggshells, hoping to avoid setting off Kory’s violent reactions.

Kory’s parents complained that getting him to assume any responsibility was nearly impossible. He required constant nagging to get anything done whether that was bringing his homework home, practicing his piano, or getting up in the morning. His parents resented Kory tremendously for the black cloud that seemed to be hanging over the family.

Kory’s teacher reported that he was not working to his potential. He was not following classroom rules, not listening to directions, and not being courteous to anyone. Reportedly, Kory attempted to take over all interactions with his peers. He was always punching, pinching, pushing, or tripping someone. Needless to say, Kory had no friends. His parents were worried about Kory’s future–they actually feared that he might end up in prison.

Kory is now in the sixth grade. For four years, Kory, his family, and his teachers have been involved in a comprehensive treatment program that we developed after a thorough evaluation. Life with Kory is no longer chaotic. His parents feel comfortable taking him nearly anywhere. Moreover, they are beginning to actually appreciate what Kory brings to the family. Generally, Kory is able to express his feelings appropriately now and is genuinely open to feedback concerning his behavior.

Kory, independently completes his homework and studies for upcoming tests on a daily basis. He is earning A’s and B’s in school. He has excelled in music and practices his piano and trumpet every morning without a hassle.

Kory is working hard to dispel his bad reputation with his peers. In fact, he has succeeded in establishing a few very nice friendships.

Kory continues to have his rough edges. However, for a 12 year old, he has a wisdom about him. He knows his strengths and weaknesses. He knows himself better than most of us do and because of this, when life’s challenges come his way, he will be able to creatively, responsibly, and wisely tackle them.


The Being Well Center treats individuals with ADD/ADHD from ages 3 to 93.  For more guidance on how to find successful treatment for ADD/ADHD, download Dr. Liden‘s guide ADD Basics 1o1.

Living on the ADD Edge

Why do so many people with ADD live life on the edge?

image via Flickr, Riccardo Palazzani

image via Flickr, Riccardo Palazzani

Living life on the edge: procrastinating and procrastinating only to complete the task, once again, at the eleventh hour, pushing the limits of the car’s maneuverability at 75 miles per hour, scheduling ten meetings in a five-meeting block of time, attacking the black diamond slope with beginner’s skills.

Each of these events provides the ADD individual with a “rush”—an adrenalin rush that is a consequence of the stress response. For all of us, the perception of danger sets off this response resulting in increased arousal; this allows us to hyperfocus.

By hyperfocusing in times of danger, we are more likely to save ourselves.

This series of events is clearly helpful for the ADD individual who struggles with focus otherwise.   By using the stress response, the competent individual with ADD is able to pull it all off again and again, making procrastination an art form.

The rush allows him to experience intense focus and, in this way, pull it off at 2:00 AM the morning it’s due, behind the wheel of the car, during meeting number four, and on the ski slope.

There is a rub to all this however; the stress response also results in elevated heart rate, increased blood pressure, and chronic anxiety.

The ADD individual living life on the edge thinking he has, time and time again, successfully avoided disaster in his life is actually a time bomb waiting to detonate.


What helps you hyperfocus?  Is it living “on the edge,” or have other strategies worked for you?  Dr. Liden discusses other ways to avoid the “ticking time bomb” approach in his best-selling book, Pay Attention! Answers to common questions about the diagnosis and treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.

9 Traits You Should Know About Your Temperament

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 individuals 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 spouses 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.

add treatment, family, the being well centerIn 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 the next section 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 or adult’s temperamental characteristics play a role in his failure to meet an expectation at school or work, we know we must develop some type of accommodation to address this contribution.

1. Activity Level refers to the amount of activity from high to low that we engage in throughout our day. Some of us are always moving and physically active; others of us are more sedentary and spend most of our time engaged in quiet activities. The child with a high activity level is likely to be in his element in gym class and playing tag during recess and to have more difficulty staying settled during quiet seated activities; on the other hand, the child with a low activity level might prefer sitting and drawing or reading during free time rather than going outside to play an active game.

2. Rhythmicity refers to the predictability of our daily bodily routines for sleeping, eating and going to the bathroom. It ranges from highly regular to highly irregular. Those of us who are highly rhythmic are hungry, have a bowel movement, and feel sleepy at about the same times every day. Others of us, who are highly irregular do not have a schedule or rhythm at all…our wake-up time varies from day to day; we feel ready for bed at different times and need to go to the bathroom at various, unpredictable times throughout our day. This unpredictability can present a challenge for the child who is asked to adhere to a rigid school schedule where everyone eats and takes bathroom breaks at the same time every day.

3. Threshold of Response refers to the amount of stimulation, ranging from high to low, we require before responding. Those of us with a low threshold require very little to make us happy, sad, angry, etc. Others of us with a high threshold require a lot before we react. The child with a very high threshold may be injured and not seem to notice his pain. At the other extreme, the child with a very low threshold may be bothered by the slightest noise, the frown from the teacher, the tags in clothing, the buzz of the fluorescent lights, the seams in socks, and the taste, texture or smell of food.

4. Frustration Tolerance refers to the level of difficulty we are able to experience before we become frustrated. Frustration tolerance ranges from high to low. Those of us who have a high frustration tolerance are able experience an awful lot of difficulty before we feel frustration. Others of us who have a low frustration tolerance become frustrated very easily. The child with a high frustration tolerance may be able to deal with repeated struggles and failures in the classroom without experiencing significant frustration. The child with a very low frustration tolerance, however, can be quick to experience frustration when asked to perform tasks of only moderate difficulty. This, in turn, sets him up for repeated struggles and can turn into negativity towards school and other learning situations.

5. Intensity of Response refers to the strength of our responses ranging from high tolow. These responses can be demonstrated outwardly or experienced inwardly. So it is not always easy to judge someone’s intensity of response by what we see. Our intensity is independent of the quality (negative or positive) of our response and the immediacy of our response (threshold).

add in school children | the being well centerThose of us with a high intensity of response experience or show strong responses. When we are happy we are very, very happy; when we are sad, we are very, very sad; when we are angry, we are very, very angry. Others of us who have a low intensity of response barely show a blip on the screen when our emotions are set off. A child with high intensity may become overly silly at birthday celebrations, rageful during a conflict on the playground, and immobilized with nervousness on math time-tests. On the other hand, the child with low intensity of response may not seem to react at all; she does not experience extreme excitement over a special event or intense disappointment over a failure. In fact, we may find it difficult to read the reactions of a child with low intensity, often misjudging low intensity for not caring.

It is important to remember that when observing for intensity of response, we can’t always judge the book by looking at the cover; some very intense people experience all their intensity internally; nail-biting, skin-picking, complaints of a tightness in one’s chest, stomachaches, jaw aches, or headaches, etc., may be our only clues to what is going on inside.

High intensity of response (externally or internally) is a very powerful temperamental trait. When present, it can rule over everything: good thinking, paying attention, proper self-control, and appropriate social skills to name a few. Failure to identify a high intensity response pattern and appropriately accommodate for it can, inadvertently, set a child up for turning to a variety of other dysfunctional behaviors in an attempt to cope with her strong reactions including such things as over-eating, drug use, and developing an “I don’t care” attitude.

6. Mood refers to the overall quality of emotion throughout the day ranging from very positive to very negative. Those of us with positive mood spend the greater portion of our day in a pleasant mood; we are likely to put a positive spin on everything; problems are challenges. Others of us with a negative mood may seem more critical throughout our day; we are likely to see the glass as half empty. A child with positive mood is generally pleasant in the classroom and may even struggle to recognize when difficulties are present or percolating. The child with negative mood is likely to respond with frown, a headshake, or critical comment to most anyone or anything.

7. Approach-Withdrawal refers to our initial response to new persons, places, events, and ideas ranging from highly approach to highly withdrawal. Those of us who are highly approach readily jump into attempting new tasks, meeting new people, and trying new foods. Others of us who are highly withdrawal resist trying a new activity, avoid attending a party with strangers, and step back from a different kind of food. The child who is highly approach will not hesitate to start a conversation with a new student or teacher, jump into new activities and embrace new concepts and academic challenges. The child who is highly withdrawal may struggle with new students, avoid new playground activities, and step back from an unfamiliar concept in the classroom.

8. Adaptability refers to the amount of time and effort it takes to adapt or accommodate to a new person, situation, or concept after our initial approach or withdrawal response. This can range from easy (highly adaptable) to very slow (non-adaptable). Those of us who are highly adaptable easily integrate new routines, expectations, and concepts into our life. Those of us who are slow to adapt struggle tremendously with these same changes. In the classroom, the child who is highly adaptable readily goes with the flow regardless of the changes in his day, such as routines, class structures, and rules. The child who is slow to adapt may require an extended time to get into the flow at the beginning of each school year, struggle with changing expectations, buck new rules, and resist changes in routines. This same child may seem slow to understand and integrate new concepts that are presented even when they are in sync with his ability level.

9. Persistence refers to how long we stick with tasks regardless of their difficulty ranging from very long to very short. Some of us are highly persistent even in the face of tremendous difficulty; we keep going and going and going. Others of us spend only a short time on a challenging task before giving up and moving on to something else. The child with long persistence resists giving up and will practice a task repeatedly until he has mastered it. This same child may struggle to stop an activity when it is time to move on if he has not yet mastered or completed it. The child with short persistence may stop practice before mastery, struggle to stick with longer, more complex tasks, and be ready to put down a challenging book long before the last page.

A Final Word about Temperament

9 Temperament Traits | The Being Well CenterEach of our temperamental traits is important and plays a significant role in shaping who we are, how we behave, and how we experience and respond to the world around us. While we have defined and discussed these traits individually, it is important to remember that in the real world these traits do not exist in isolation; they interact with each other to influence our behavior in a complex way. Subtle differences in temperamental profiles can result in dramatic differences in how they present themselves in our homes and classrooms.

For example, a child with a negative mood, long persistence, slow adaptability, low frustration tolerance, and high intensity of reaction may be very difficult to work with when this set of characteristics interact with each other to result in frequent, very big negative reactions that last a long time in response to the inevitable changes and challenges that occur every day in the classroom.

On the other hand, a different child with a very similar profile including a negative mood, long persistence, slow adaptability, low frustration tolerance, but a low intensity of reaction may be much less difficult to work with. This is because his low intensity of reaction means his frequent, negative reactions to the changes and challenges in the classroom will be milder and, even if they do persist, their small magnitude may not register on anyone’s radar.

Therefore, as we examine a child’s temperamental profile, it is important to look closely at each trait separately and then consider how each of these individual traits may interact with the others to shape the behavior and personality we are observing.

We’d like to share a quick worksheet to help you apply the 9 Temperament Traits to yourself or a loved one.  Download: 9 TEMPERAMENT TRAITS WORKSHEET.  Where do you fall on the spectrum?  Your spouse?  Your children?