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Temperament “Early patterns of observable behavior that are presumed to be biologically based and that distinguish one child from another.” The “how” versus.

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Presentation on theme: "Temperament “Early patterns of observable behavior that are presumed to be biologically based and that distinguish one child from another.” The “how” versus."— Presentation transcript:

1 Temperament “Early patterns of observable behavior that are presumed to be biologically based and that distinguish one child from another.” The “how” versus the “why” or “what” of behavior Child’s personal “style” of behavior Sturm

2 History of Temperament Drs. Alexander Thomas and Stella Chess New York Longitudinal Study Analysis of parent interviews about infants and their characteristic responses to daily events Followed children from infancy to adulthood Nine traits of temperament and four broad categories or “profiles” were created

3 Nine Temperamental Traits Activity Level Biological Rhythms or Regularity Approach/Withdrawal Intensity of Reaction Sensory Threshold Adaptability Distractibility Persistence Mood

4 Temperament Traits Behavior should reflect overall style Present across settings, not situational Stable across time Behavior identified in all children Not redundant with another trait Trait should have functional significance Behaviors that reflect characteristics alter with development

5 Activity Level Motor component of behavior Amount of active vs. sedentary periods Child’s “idle speed” or general activity level

6 Biological Rhythms Predictability of biological functions Appetite Sleep Toileting

7 Approach/Withdrawal Initial response to new stimulus Child’s characteristic response to new situations or people

8 Intensity of Reaction Energy level of response Child demonstrates upset strongly and dramatically or by just getting quiet?

9 Sensory Threshold Intensity of sensory stimulation required to evoked a detectable response Sounds Taste Touch Temperature changes

10 Adaptability How easily the child adapts to transitions and changes Ease of which behavior can be changed from negative to positive

11 Distractibility Effectiveness of extraneous stimuli in drawing attention away from ongoing behavior

12 Persistence Length of time child continues an activity in the face of obstacles

13 Mood Tendency to react to world in a primarily positive or negative way Amount of pleasant vs. unpleasant behavior

14 Broad Categories Easy Slow to warm Difficult “Other”

15 The “Easy” Child Regular, predictable biological rhythms Positively approaches new stimuli Easily adapts to change Mild to moderate mood expressions— predominately positive Easy to manage Represent about 40% of children

16 “Slow to Warm” Child Biological functions may or may not be regular Initial negative withdrawal to new stimuli Adapt slowly to change Many negative mood expressions Mood expressions are mild Problems mostly with adapting to new stimuli Often considered shy Represent about 15% of children

17 The “Difficult” Child Irregular, unpredictable biological rhythms Negative withdrawal to new stimuli Poor adaptability to change Negative emotional expressions and loud intensity Difficult to manage Represent about 10% of children

18 The “Other” Category Many children show a mixture of traits These children don’t clearly fit into the three major temperament categories Represent 35% of children

19 TraitsEasyDifficult Activity Level LowHigh Distractibility LowHigh IntensityLowHigh RegularityRegularIrregular Sensory Threshold HighLow Approach/ Withdrawal ApproachWithdrawal AdaptabilityGoodPoor PersistenceLowHigh MoodPositiveNegative

20 Role of Temperament Can determine caregivers’ reactions to the child Affect how the child interprets and makes sense of life experiences Shape the child’s active choices of certain activities and environments Above may reinforce child’s temperamental ways of being Sturm

21 “Disabilities may affect a child’s temperament. Children with disabilities are more likely to have difficult temperaments than children who are not disabled. Thus, interventions have to be tailored to adequately address temperament.” Chess & Fernandez, 1976; Coll et al. 1986


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