How a Child’s Temperament Influences Your Parenting Style

Understanding your child's temperament and the way that it influences your parenting behavior is vital to success.

Both your temperament and that of your child can play a significant role in your parenting. Your temperament influences how strict or lenient you are, how patient you are, how you discipline or reward your child and the level of encouragement that you provide. Along with your temperament, your child’s temperament also considerably impacts your parenting style and ability. Ask any parent of multiple children, and they will tell you that each kid needs different things and requires a distinct type of parenting.

Understanding your child’s temperament and the way that it influences your parenting behavior is vital to success.

What is Temperament?

Your temperament is all the characteristics that make you, you. Temperament determines how we perceive or respond to our children’s requests, needs, or behaviors and influences the bond between parent and child.

Your temperament involves your sensitivity and level of activity, energy, consistency, or adaptability. It also includes your persistence or how easily you are distracted from a task.

Why is Temperament Important?

Temperament is essential to good parenting. Both your temperament and your child can impact all situations and how they are handled. Understanding your temperament type can help you address issues more effectively by knowing which areas are your strengths and which may be a struggle. Even when the parent and child share a similar temperament, problems can arise. Similar activity levels may create a good match. However, similar intensity levels can lead to heated disagreements.

The same rules apply to parents and children with opposite temperaments. Opposing temperaments can be both positive or negative depending on the aspects it involves. Having a parent with a  low energy level and a child with a high energy level can create issues, as can having an intense parent with a low-intensity child.  However, opposites can also be excellent sources of teaching. An outgoing and active parent can help a more reserved child find their footing and come out of their shell.

A study published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology explains that there is no ‘one size fits all’ regarding parenting. The study, which focused on how different parenting styles affect children’s mental health based on their temperaments, found that when the parenting style matched up well with the child’s temperament, the child experienced half as many symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Utilizing Your Temperament to Develop Effective Parenting Strategies

Being aware of your temperament and how it fits with your child’s temperament can help you create effective parenting strategies that work for both of you.

A high-intensity child may act out in ways that a low-intensity parent does not always understand. However, it is essential to remember that this behavior is typical for that child. It is your patience level that is low.

While we cannot change our temperament, we can change our techniques. Determine your areas of strength and find ways to incorporate them with your child’s strengths. Look for strategies that help you cope with your differences and live in harmony. For example, if you are sensitive to noise and you are raising a rambunctious 4-year-old who loves to make noise, run around, and be silly, a regular outing to the park may be just the outlet that you both need to feel comfortable and confident.

If you try to fit a round peg into a square hole, you will encounter problems. Experts agree, there is no one way to parent that will work for everyone. Parenting must suit your lifestyle and your child’s needs equally.   

Adjust your parenting style to ‘fit’ your child’s temperament.

Look for patterns in your parenting and the behavior of your child. While you cannot change your temperament, you can choose to act/react differently. If you find that you are prone to poor eating habits, for example, but find that your child needs regular meals to avoid hunger meltdowns, it may be time to reaccess your eating routine to better suit your child’s needs.

The same goes for many other areas of everyday life. If you tend to respond to change with dramatic intensity, you may find your children reduced to tears if they do not share the same intensity that you do.

Look at your child’s behaviors and reactions and use them to develop a plan. Does your child melt down every time you need to leave the park or library? Use this as a cue and start to give them a warning or countdown that it is time to go. While this may not stop the meltdowns completely, it can help to lessen them. Over time meltdowns will be reduced as the child gets used to being given notice of what is to come.

Keep Kids in the Loop.

Taking the time to teach your child about their temperament, along with yours, can help them help you. Children prefer to know what is happening, and as adults, we often do things our way with little regard for their desires. By dragging your child along for the ride instead of making them a willing participant, you undermine their intelligence. Talk to your kids about their temperaments and explain how it conflicts with your style of parenting. You may be surprised to find that your children do some of the things they do for reasons you never considered

Parenting is not easy, and with all the conflicting advice that parents receive, it can be a difficult road to navigate. No one has all the answers, and not all solutions will fit all people. As a parent, you know your child better than anyone. Experiment, try new approaches and listen to your child’s cues to find what will work best for both of you. Remember, just like you, your child has a temperament that is all their own. While there may be similarities to your way of life, there will also be drastic differences. Embraces these differences and look for ways to utilize them to your benefit.

Understanding your temperament and learning about your child’s temperament will help you become the best parent that you can be.


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