More thoughts about temperament

In a recent post, we looked at toddler temperament and how it effects parenting. I listed 9 different temperament traits – for each one you might list where your child lies on the continuum.

Some researchers and authors have tried to distill these down into four common types, or five common types. Check out the categories below, and see if you think any of them describe your child.

Clusters of Traits

When researchers looked at the 9 categories, they observed three common “clusters” of traits.

Easy Child, aka Flexible – 40%. This child is predictable, open to new situations, extremely adaptable, positive mood, average activity level, and don’t over-react to stressors. An easy child can fit into any environment, is likable, and helps the adults around him/her to feel successful. The downside is that this child can be overlooked or forgotten in a crowd when attention is focused on kids with ‘problems.’

Slow to Warm Up, aka Fearful or Cautious – 15%. May have low activity level, be afraid of new people and new situations, slow to adapt to change, sensitive, and serious. With too much pressure, this child has melt-downs. On the other hand, if he’s never pushed, he may never make any progress. With preparation, support, and gentle, respectful encouragement, this child can do well. This may require a lot of patience on the part of the caregiver who will need support from peers to manage their frustrations.

Difficult, aka Feisty – 10%. Fussy, unpredictable, with-drawing, hates change, negative, and has intense reactions to things that disturb her. This child is exhausting to all around, leaving caregivers angry, resentful, incompetent, confused. This child can be hard to like, and tends to get negative feedback from those around him. Looking for the child’s positive traits and helping to bring those out, and reduce the impact of the negative traits will help over time. Caregivers need breaks from the child, and support for their challenges.

35% of kids didn’t align with any of these clusters of traits. Some have proposed adding the “Active” child, who is similar to the easy child in many ways (positive mood, not over-sensitive) but can be so active he exhausts his caregivers. This child benefits from LOTS of physical activity. It doesn’t mean that you don’t ever take him places where he needs to sit still (church, movies, etc.). But before going to those places, you may stop by the playground to run off some energy!

Tracy Hogg’s 5 types

The Five Temperaments

You may also run across information about the “5 temperaments” from the work of Tracy Hogg author of Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers. Here’s how those types line up with the 9 traits.

Angel Toddler: Moderate energy, predictable, approaches new situations easily, very adaptable, less intense reactions, happy, easy to distract from no-nos. Adapts well to any style of parenting.

Textbook Toddler: Moderate activity, VERY predictable, can be shy at first but quickly adjusts, loves routine (low adaptability), low sensitivity, moderate moods, moderately persistent. Likes routines.

Touchy Toddler: Not regular / predictable, slow to warm up to new situations, not adaptable, HIGH sensitivity, intense reactions, very low distractibility / high persistence.  Needs structure/predictability.

Spirited Toddler: VERY active, bold in new situations, moderate sensitivity, high intensity, high persistence. Needs clear limits, and an outlet for their energy.

Grumpy Toddler:  Active. Sensitive, intense reactions. Negative mood / hard to please. Needs space, control/choices.
To learn more, go to; or take a quiz to determine your baby’s type:;wap2

Here’s a list of all the sources I used for my two posts on temperament:

Recommended overviews

Your baby’s temperament, The parent-baby fit

Why Time-Out Doesn’t Work for All Kids and Other Secrets From Temperament-Based Parenting at

Recommended online quizzes – include customized tips for how to parent a child with your child’s temperament

The Ready for Life temperament quiz (

The Infant Toddler Temperament Tool (IT3)

Other sources I used

Tips for creating a “Goodness of Fit” between a child and his parents and environment:

Goodness of Fit Worksheet for Both Parents to complete:

Parentmaking. Rothenber, et al. 1995.

How to parent with different temperaments.

“Temperament and Goodness of Fit” –

Parenting your child’s temperament:

What kind of temperament does my baby have?;jsessionid=9E410BA3645AF819662AB5F47E8856EF?id=8121

Is your child’s temperament a good fit with yours?

The Importance of Temperament:

Early Childhood Temperament Sorter: Note: this is a GREAT tool for parents of children age 4 – 8. It offers a quiz to determine your child’s type and your own type, and then tips on how to manage both. Not really suited to a toddler.

3 thoughts on “More thoughts about temperament

  1. Pingback: Understanding Your Child’s Temperament | Bellevue Toddlers

  2. Pingback: Your Unique Child | More Good Days - Parenting Blog

  3. Pingback: Understanding Your Child’s Temperament | More Good Days – Parenting Blog

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