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WWB #23 Training KitUnderstanding Temperament in Infants and Toddlers
What is Temperament?
A child’s temperament describes the way in which he/he approaches and reacts to the worldIt is his/her personal “style.”Researchers describe temperament as having three types:Easy or flexibleActive or feistySlow to warm or cautious
What is Temperament?Activity 1
Laura is 20 months old and just started in child care. She is a lovely child with a beautiful smile. She gets hungry or tired at different times each day; she seems to always want to run, climb, jump. She does not enjoy quiet activities, such as games and book reading. Laura has trouble transitioning between activities sometimes resulting in 10 minutes oftrantrums.
What is Temperament?
It is important to refrain from thinking of a child’s temperamental traits as “good” or “bad.”What do children from the three different temperament groups bring to your programs?Easy or flexibleActive or feistySlow to warm or cautious
Why Is Temperament Important?
Temperament influences a child’s behavior and the way she/he interacts with others.Understanding a child’s temperament can help providers and families better understand how young children react and relate to the world around them.Information about a child’s temperament can guide parents and caregivers to identify strengths and needed supports.Caregivers can seek a “goodness of fit.”
Using What You Know about Temperament to Support Children
Reflect on your own temperamentUnderstanding your temperament can help you identify the “goodness of fit” for each child in your care.Knowing more about your own temperament traits will help you to take the child’s perspective.In what temperament category do you see yourself? Why?How would you feel in a classroom that is more attuned to a temperament different than your own?
Using What You Know about Temperament to Support Children
Create partnerships with families to understand a child’s temperament.Share what you know about temperament with families including the three temperament types.Ask parents to help you understand their child’s activity level, responses to new situations, persistence, distractibility, adaptability, mood, intensity, sensitivity, and regularity (You may want to refer to the Temperament Continuum handout provided with these materials).Recognize that temperament can be influenced by family culture.
Using What You Know about Temperament to Support Children
Respect and value each child’s temperament when individualizing your curriculum.Somecaregivingpractices support all children’s development, yet certain practices might be especially important for children with certain temperament types.What practices might be important for each of the three temperament types?Easy or flexibleActive or feistySlow to warm or cautious
Using What You Know about Temperament to Support Children
What practices might be important for each of child needs for each of the three temperament types?Easy or flexible (Child may be less likely to demand attention and make needs known)Active or feisty (Child may experience intense emotions and reactions)Slow to warm or cautious (Child may have difficulty with new situations or people)
Brining It TogetherPair-Think-Share
Reflecting on Laura from the beginning of this training kit, how might you address her needs?Laura is 20 months old and just started in child care. She is a lovely child with a beautiful smile. She gets hungry or tired at different times each day; she seems to always want to run, climb, jump. She does not enjoy quiet activities, such as games and book reading. Laura has trouble transitioning between activities sometimes resulting in 10 minutes oftrantrums.
Pre-Training Survey
What is “temperament?”What are the three temperament types?What are some examples of family culture impacting children’s temperament?How can caregivers’ knowledge of temperament be used to support children’s development and learning?

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WWB - Vanderbilt University