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Temperament / Eila Passoja

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1 Temperament / Eila Passoja
Modern theories of temperament began with the work of Drs. Thomas and Chess and associates in the New York Longitudinal Study – NYLS - in the early 1950's, and since then hundreds of scientific studies of temperament have shown that temperament is an important factor in child growth, health and development. Temperament is behavioural style - the how of behaviour rather than the what or why individual differences in emotion, motor, reactivity and self-regulation that demonstrate consistency across situations and over time biologically based - hereditary, present at birth, neural, and hormonal factors affect response to the environment

2 Thomas and Chess found nine temperament characteristics – traits
Activity - the amount of body movement and activity level on a day-to-day basis Rhythmicity - the regularity and predictability of the child´s usual pattern of activities, including eating and sleeping schedules Sociability - tendency to approach new people and situations versus shyness and withdrawal Adaptability - ability to adapt over time to new foods, new experiences, and new life challenges; and changes in the environment Reactivity - the readiness with which a child reacts to a particular stimulus or event

3 Intensity - of responses to everyday occurrences and experiences, such as crying or protesting very lustily, or responding in a mild way; the energy of response regardless of its quality or direction Mood - whether positive or negative on a day-to-day basis Distractibility - the ease with which a child can be distracted, interrupted by sound, light, etc Persistence - the ability to remain focused on an activity or a task None of these temperament traits are necessarily bad, but may cause problem when they either don't match environment´s expectations Patterns of temperamental qualities are remarkably stable through childhood. These traits are also found in children across all cultures

4 Goodness of Fit the concept of 'goodness of fit' between the child's temperament and the demands and expectations of the environment was introduced to explain the interactions that were observed and became a model for assessing and intervening when stressful interactions were observed if there is a goodness of fit between child and environment, the foundation for a healthy self-concept and stabel self-esteem is laid down if there is a poorness of fit, a negative, denigrated self-evaluation begins to crystalize temperament characters play an important role in the elicitation of reactions from others in the social environment, but also situation perception, situation selection, and the development of strategies that individuals use when trying to satisfy their needs

5 Pathways from infancy to adolescence: Australian Temperament Project by Margot Prior, Ann Sanson, Diana Smart, and Frank Oberklaid The childhood measures of temperament were based on the model of temperament developed by Thomas and Chess (1977) The main dimensions of temperament which emerged consistently in the research, from infancy through adolescence were called: Sociability/Approach, Irritability, Rhythmicity, Persistence, Reactivity, Flexibility, and Activity Some of the temperament dimensions identified in earlier research by Thomas and Chess (1977) seem to combine together, rather than remain distinct, for example, Adaptability and Sociability usually combine into a single temperament dimension which we usually call Sociability


7 Educational Impact of Temperament
Dr. Keogh studies focused on special educations students and how their behavioral style impacted their learning She found that classroom teachers perceived a temperament dimension of 'teachability' in students, and it was the most important element in predicting how well youngsters would progress academically This behavioral style characteristic was related to "easy temperament" in both special education and regular education children Other temperament categories, called task orientation and reactivity were also related to educational functioning Some temperamental features even predicted overall student achievement better than their scores on tests of cognitive ability!

8 Clinical Practice and Temperament
Knowledge about temperament and individuality can be useful in several ways: educating parents, teachers and professionals about the existence of individual differences in temperament and ways to deal with these differences can be valuable it is helpful to know the specific patterns of behavioural individuality to allow those working with the youngster to 'tune in' to their behavioural style with an accurate assessment of the child's behaviour, specific changes can be planned and implemented by those working with the youngster. These interventions can improve the 'fit' between the youngster and environment, reducing stress and improving adjustment

9 Why should someone know their own/others´ temperamental qualities?
Recognizing individual’s temperament and helping him/her to understand how it impacts his/her life as well as others, will help to prevent and manage problems that may arise from the personal differences, it may decrease conflict and improve adjustment By understanding individual’s temperaments and recognize our own helps us to work with him/her rather than try to change him/her It is also important to know that temperament does not excuse unacceptable behavior, but it does give us an opportunity to anticipate and understand individual’s reactions and reasons for his/her behavior Modern researches do not deny the importance of the environmental influences on child temperament. They also believe in genetic factors. It is very clear that the environment is very important to temperament

10 You can determine your own temperament qualities by completing
The Adult Temperament Questionnaire (ATQ) By Alexander Thomas and Stella Chess Measures nine NYLS temperament dimensions in adulthood (17-80 years) Comparison of self ratings with standardized scores can show level of self awareness in adulthood

11 Some other links:

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