Nine Temperament Traits

by Maxine
Posted July 30 2010 02:55pm
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There are nine Temperament Traits and each trait has a high and low version.  While there is lots of variation, it’s the high and low versions that are the most challenging to parent.  Read through the descriptions below and see if your child fits any of them. When you're done, you can use a variety of Comfort, Play & Teach stratagies that are tailored to the nine temperament traits.  


  • Low Activity – this child is laid back and content to watch others be active, these children may prefer more sedentary activities.
  • High Activity – these children are the squirmers.  Even as babies they wave their arms, kick their legs and wriggle their bodies non-stop.  These children are always on the go.


  • Low Adaptability – this child finds it hard to move from one part of their day to the next.
  • High Adaptability – these children transition from one activity to the next with no problem.  They accept your leadership and easily go from sleep to wake, from house to car or from playtime to bathtime.


  • Low Approach – this child is shy – very tentative or cautious in new situations.
  • High Approach – these children are very enthusiastic about new people and new situations.  They seem bold!


  • Low Distractibility – this child doesn’t notice much.  These children don't easily stop what they're doing—no matter how enticing the distraction might be!
  • High Distractibility – these children are easily sidetracked from one thing to another. 


  • Low Intensity – this child is mellow and calm.
  • High Intensity – these children are the big responders.  They squeal delightedly with happiness and shriek with despair.


  • Low Persistence – this child gives up easily in face of failure.
  • High Persistence – these children continue to do what they want—even when they're faced with obstacles.


  • Low Positivity – this child is serious and more difficult to please.  These children find it hard to have a positive attitude when they experience a setback. These children may not smile or laugh very easily.
  • High Positivity – these children are just generally sunny, cheerful and resilient in the face of setbacks. These are the children that may smile and laugh more frequently.


  • Low Regularity – this child is hard to predict.  It's difficult to tell when they're hungry or tired.
  • High Regularity – these children seem to have internal clocks that keep them on a predictable schedule, and they don't like to deviate!


  • Low Sensitivity – this child is blissfully unaware of things in their environment that bother others such as light, temperature, noise, textures and tastes.  These children don't easily pick up on interpersonal signals.
  • High Sensitivity – these children react strongly to even mild lights, sounds, textures, tastes and pain.  They are super sensitive to even mild stimuli, and are profoundly distressed by thunderstorms or wet diapers.


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Avoiding Competition over Parenting

by Maxine
Posted August 19 2010 12:06pm
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Here are some more tips from our experts to help you and your partner avoid competing over your differing parenting strategies.

Society’s influence

Be aware of how society's expectations may be influencing how each of you approaches parenting. If you’re like the majority of new parents, neither of you is an expert. Research shows that in this day and age, moms are no more knowledgeable, skillful or confident at handling babies than dads are—although society expects moms to be more expert. In large blocks of Canadian society, dads are not expected to know anything at all about babies, and there are pressures to give moms the lead in parenting.

Think this over—and talk it over. In your situation, is Mom really more knowledgeable about parenting than Dad? If she is the "expert" parent, is that the way you want it to be? There is no one correct way to answer these questions, but it may help to discuss your views about this with one another.

Your baby’s favourite

Don't let your baby's natural preference for one of you at a particular time trigger guilt or insecurity. It's normal for children to have some preference for the person with whom they spend the most time. For tiny babies, that person is usually Mom, and in some cases, it's Dad. However, most babies are also interested in any person who comes into their lives, especially a playful, smiling person.

In Canada, moms frequently take on most of the routine care of infants and spend the most time with them. Dads, while providing less routine care, are no less important in their babies' lives. Much of their time spent with baby is playful and activity-driven. Babies frequently prefer receiving care from one parent and play from another. It's important not to let this slip into a competition. Your baby needs both of you.

Equal tasks

Make sure that each of you shares fun tasks as well as difficult ones. Taking care of your baby is demanding and relentless. It’s essential that each of you has fun with your baby.

Criticism hurts

Each of you is probably sensitive to criticism from the other. Research shows that over 90% of new parents say that parenting is the most important thing they do and yet, they know little about parenting and child development. So there they are, with a tiny precious bundle and little idea about what to do.

In many cases, both parents fear failure at this most important responsibility. This makes them very sensitive to criticism, especially from each other. It is even worse for dads because they already have society telling them they are inferior to moms at parenting. The bottom line? Avoid criticizing each other.


Remember to compliment and encourage each other's parenting style. Parents who support each other generally have children who are better adjusted than the children of parents in conflict. Offer each other help and support. You made this baby and now, you're in this together! Genuine compliments and encouragement about each other's parenting style go a long way towards making a happy family.

Keep your couple relationship healthy and strong. The relationship you have as a couple will have a direct impact on your relationship as parents, a parenting team and a family.  With the added responsibilities of parenthood and care of a new baby, it is important to spend time as a couple.  (LINK to Quality couple time articles.)

How do you avoid competing as parents? Share your tips by leaving a comment below.


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Temperament: Distractibility

by Nancy and Nanci
Posted April 3 2012 05:15pm
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I think most parents would say, without reflecting too much, that they would like their children to be low in distractibility, one of the nine temperament traits.   We can imagine a child listening attentively to teachers – or listening attentively to us! But like all the traits, there are advantages to being high, low or moderate. The benefit or challenge lies in the fit between the temperament profile and the expectations of the environment.

How distractible is your baby?

HIGH distractibility:

  • Your baby stops nursing when there’s a disturbance in the room, like a bouncy sibling.
  • Your baby is easily distracted if he heads for something dangerous. You rattle your keys or shake a rattle and he starts crawling towards you.

LOW distractibility:

  • When your baby heads for danger, you have to move fast and scoop him up. He won’t be distracted by a toy or set of keys (Safety-proofing your home is important for all babies. Away from home, where you can’t alter the environment, be ready to run and scoop your low-distractibility baby.)
  • If your baby is upset, hurt or lonely, she is not distracted by things you do – bouncing her, playing peek a boo, standing on your head. You can only soothe your baby by acknowledging her hurt or loneliness, and ride the emotion with your child.

How distractible is your toddler?

HIGH distractibility:
While all toddlers are busy and have a short attention span, the toddler with high distractibility constantly moves from one activity to another in response to others’ activity. He runs to the window when he hears a siren, he rushes to play with a toy another child has picked up, he hurries to grab the phone when it rings, and he has trouble listening to a story if there’s music being played.

LOW distractibility:
Your toddler is busy but moves purposefully from one area to another rather than responding to outside activities.). He builds a tower of blocks, and then runs to find a truck to knock it down. He returns to the tower and demolishes it. He may repeat this over and over.

How distractible is your school-age child?

HIGH distractibility:
Your child has trouble staying on task. Your child needs a quiet, calm corner for doing homework or completing a project. . In group activities at school, your child may need gentle support to stay focussed – like sitting close to the teacher or other adult.

LOW distractibility:
She often misses social cues from other people. If she’s involved in an activity, she doesn’t hear you when you call her to dinner. You may need to gently “interrupt” your child’s concentration. (Using innate objects like post’m notes, bells or timers may be less irritating to your child than direct parental intrusion!)


Maybe your baby, toddler or child is moderate in distractibility. The moderate zone is generally the least stressful for child and parent! Being moderate means reacting to external cues but being able to focus, as well. The tendency is to see low distractibility as more desirable but in fact, the advantages or disadvantages depend on the environment and the level of child development. A better approach is to moderate the environment, when possible, and provide strategies your child can follow to be successful even when temperament and environment aren’t a good fit.



This article was written by Parents2Parents experts,
Nanci Burns and Nancy Rubenstein
, co-authors of Take Your Temperament!

We all know that every child is unique. The Take Your Temperament! work-book is designed to help you put that reality into action in an engaging and meaningful way. It invites parents and children to explore how they react to the world—and do so without guilt or shame. Find out more at www.takeyourtemperament.ca.

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Avoiding competition with other couples

by Maxine
Posted August 19 2010 12:12pm
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Proud parents love to talk about their babies…

"Our little Jake is already holding his head up. He's only a month old!"

"Oh, your daughter's not rolling over yet? Cynthia started when she was only 3 months."

"I never had to worry about looking for the pacifier. My son would suck his fingers and calm himself down—practically from the time he was a newborn."

You’ve probably heard some of those yourself, or maybe even said them. All parents love to talk about their little one, however, when moms and dads brag too much to other parents, they can bore and alienate otherwise good people. Plus this can add stress—for them and their baby.

All babies are unique and each parent’s relationship with their child is unique.

Your Baby vs. Their Baby

While your delight and enthusiasm over your baby may be hard to contain, remember—children each develop at their own pace. Some skills emerge early, others show up later. There is a very wide range of what is considered to be "normal development."

Some babies achieve most of their milestones at the early part of their age group; others—at the end. Unfortunately, many parents whose babies are late bloomers worry about this, wishing their baby could be first at least part of the time. So, when sharing your pride with other parents, keep tabs on whether your enthusiasm is welcomed and shared. If their baby isn't developing as quickly, this might create some distance between you and your friends, making the other parents feel like you're competing with them.

And if you’re the parent of a late bloomer?  “Be sure to show your child your amazement at her strengths. Point out her accomplishments to others. The late bloomer gets enough attention from people who notice that she's developing more slowly. You can boost her confidence by taking notice of what she does achieve,” says Palmina Ioannone, a Child Development expert.

The Pressure of Pleasing You

Maybe your baby is only a late bloomer in some areas of development. Competing with other parents over any type of development puts pressure on your baby—the pressure of either pleasing you or disappointing you. Your baby is finely tuned into you, the parents. Even before he can speak, he can pick up on your disappointment and worry. Bragging to other parents adds pressure to your baby, not only to perform, but to risk disappointing you—even with the most basic things, like sitting or standing alone.

So be proud and amazed at your baby's development! Don't lose sight of just how astounding infant development is. By all means, share your discoveries with your family and friends but stay away from unhealthy competition.

Parents know their own child the best. Remember—developmental milestones are only guidelines. If you have any concerns about your child's development, by all means consult your child's physician.

Too Much Good Advice

Many parents turn to one another for information and advice. Frequently, the person or couple you trust the most has more experience than you, or are just ahead of you on the parenthood track. Most parents are very happy to pass on their hard won tips and tricks. However, sometimes unhealthy competition arises among couples around what each considers to be "proper" parenting. A heated conversation can result from even silly things, like whether you should take your baby to the mall or not or whether it does any good to read to your 1-month-old. And, of course, there's often competition among couples over larger parenting decisions, such as whether your baby sleeps in the same room with you or whether you're breastfeeding or not.

Guard against feeling inadequate around more experienced parents. These days, everything parents learn, they learn on the job—and that's how you're going to learn, too.

There is no one way to parent. We are a multicultural society—with a large number of parenting values and approaches. Appreciate the variety that Canadian parents bring to their role. Every family is unique. We can learn from each other.

Have you ever dealt with any of these issues? How did you handle them? Leave a comment below and share your story with other parents just like you!


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