assessing temperament 

Elements of temperament have been pretty well-defined in research and first outlined by Thomas and Chess (1977). Temperament speaks to hard wired ways of taking in a processing experiences.

 

Some children score just a bit (or a lot) higher on some (or many) of these traits. Individuals won't score highly on all of them, but being on the higher end on some of these may mean children may have stronger reactions, may feel things more deeply, or may take more time to get used to new things. 

Rate your child on the traits below, then think about these as they may relate to yourself. You might be surprised that you have some of these traits, too. Tree, meet Apple.

1. Activity/Energy

How active/on-the-go is your child?

1 - Quiet/mellow 

3- Average/Normal for age

5 - Constantly moving or doing

2. Intensity

How big are their reactions (positive or negative)? How quickly do they go "from 0-60"? How much are their feelings "loud and clear"?

1 - Very even tempered

3 - Normal for age

5 - Very big feelings

3. Sensory sensitivity

How much is your child bothered by sounds, textures, etc.? Are they a light sleeper (i.e. it takes very little to wake them or prevent them from sleeping)? Do they wake the second you put them in the crib?

1 - Not at all

3 - Normal for age

5 - Yes, very much like this

4. Persistence

How easily will your child give up on something they want? How easily can you change accustomed routines?

 

1 - Pretty easy, goes with the flow

3 - Normal for age

5 - Not easily at all; Very strong will

5. Perceptiveness

How much does your child notice small changes or variation in daily events? Do you frequently say that they "don't miss a thing."

1 - Not at all

3 - Normal for age

5 - Yes, very much like this

BONUS Items 
Based on temperament research and parent reports

6. Self-soothing

How easily does your child calm down when upset? How much help do they need?

1 - Self-soothes easily

3 - Normal for age

5 - Not a self-soother at all

7. Ability to play independently

How well does your child play alone? Are they able to play independently for periods of time?

1 - Easily plays independently

3 - Normal for age

5 - Rarely, if ever, plays alone; prefers interacting

8. Sleep behavior

How well does your child sleep? Would you rate their sleep as problematic?

1 - Not at all; Easy sleeper

3 - Normal for age

5 - Where do I even begin?

extra credit 
These are items that parents of spirited children often say

Early alertness: Was your child notably alert/focused at birth?

Persistence of sleep problems: Has your child had sleep problems from the start (i.e. would you say they have never, ever slept well)?

Need for active soothing: As a baby, did/does your child seem to need vigorous soothing (i.e. bouncing versus rocking)?

Physical conditions: Has your child had (or do they have) reflux, colic, eczema, food intolerance or ear infections?

Odd one out: Have you felt like your child is quite different from the other babies/children you know or have seen? Or is your experience as a parent really different from other parents you know?

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

results/scoring

 

If you found yourself scoring your child with 4's or 5's on some (or most) items and you checked a few of the extra items, your child may be a child who is a little more challenging, but also has some remarkable abilities. See my article on the upsides of a "difficult" temperament for more info.

© 2020 by Macall Gordon, M.A.