WWB #23 Training Kit
Understanding Temperament in
Infants and Toddlers
What is Temperament?
• A child’s temperament describes the way in
which he/he approaches and reacts to the
world
• It is his/her personal “style.”
• Researchers describe temperament as having
three types:
– Easy or flexible
– Active or feisty
– Slow 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 of
trantrums.
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 flexible
– Active or feisty
– Slow 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 temperament
– Understanding 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.
– Some caregiving practices 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 flexible
• Active or feisty
• Slow 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 Together
Pair-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 of
trantrums.
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?