Baby Temperament: Carved in Stone or Flexible?

Generally, there are three categories for baby temperament: difficult/active, easy, and slow-to-warm. Each includes very different natural inclinations and personality traits.

What are these traits and how do they manifest themselves in a child’s personality or behavior?

Difficult/Active Child: Intense and Passionate

Children with this type of personality have a lot of energy and need a lot of space. They are intense, determined, and can be very vocal when interrupted in whatever they’re doing.

Busy environments and new things stimulate their passion and mood – in positive and negative ways. External sensory stimuli, like smells, sounds, or bright lights, can bother and distract them. For that reason, they can have difficulty adapting to changes and new situations.

Often, their attention span seems short. But, when they find an activity they like, they can get so absorbed that they engage in it for hours. You may find it difficult to get their attention or have them transition to another activity.

Easy Child: Happy and Responsive

Children with this type of personality have a moderate activity level and easily adapt to routines. They usually go with the flow and transition to new situations quickly, even when it’s at odds with what they need.

Sensory issues don’t bother or distract them very much. They will stay on task, able to play alone for a long time. Should a problem come up, they normally react mildly and with tempered emotions.

Slow-to-Warm Child: Careful and Passive

Children with this type of personality are often inactive, quiet, and shy, but they may get fidgety now and then. They are cautious and concerned about new situations, even frightened at times. Though, their expression of fear is normally mild. Instead of reacting aggressively, they often simply withdraw.

Their mood depends on their comfort level, and external sensory stimuli may play into that mood. If they perceive a situation as dangerous, they usually don’t engage in it. They need a lot of time to adjust to new situations and often stay to the side, watching.

Once they do warm up, they typically engage at a slow pace, needing time to feel secure enough to try out an activity. They like routines and predictability and tend to get easily distracted by new things.

Is Baby Temperament Carved in Stone or Flexible?

Scientific research into our genetic makeup has expanded a lot. Behavioral molecular genetics are even examining how our genes connect to our individual traits and personalities. It’s certain that we inherit different temperaments and aptitudes from our parents, but these inborn tendencies are not carved in stone. Our experiences, training, and personal efforts add to what we start with at birth.

As any caring and sensible parent, you surely want to give your baby the best in life. While you probably don’t want to arbitrarily put your child into a “baby temperament box,” it is good to know what their natural inclinations are. But don’t imagine your child can’t grow beyond that. As a matter of fact, you can be one of the biggest influences in their lives.

To begin with, you can make sure your baby’s environment is in harmony with their temperament to maximize psychological growth and healthy development. Knowing their personality will also help you teach and encourage your child in a way that will work best with their temperament.

So, instead of labeling them or pressing them into a fixed mold, help them to learn, expand, and adapt their personality. However, be ever cautious how your own temperament may affect how you view your child. Guide them to become the best version of themselves, not just a better version of you.