Diane Weiss, M. S. Parenting Works, llc



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Diane Weiss, M.S. 

 

                                                       Parenting Works, LLC 

2477 Stickney Point Road, Suite 319-B                                                                                 

diane@parentingworksllc.com

  

Sarasota, Florida 34231                                                                                                                                       (941) 320-4628                                               

 

9 Temperament Traits 

 

Psychologists studying individual differences in people have identified the following nine traits as parts of 



temperament (Thomas et al, 1970). 

 

Activity level

 

Amount of movement and body activity 



 

Biological Regularity

 

Regularity of biological functions (e.g., sleep-wake cycle, hunger, bowel 



elimination)

 

Adaptability

 

How quickly or slowly the person adapts to a change in routine or overcomes 



an initial negative response 

Approach/Withdrawal

 

How the person initially reactions to a new person or an unfamiliar situation  



Sensitivity Threshold

 

How sensitive the person is to potentially irritating stimuli (e.g. sound, 



temperature, crowds, textures, tastes) 

Intensity of Emotional Response

 

How strongly the person reacts to positive and negative situations.  The  



energy level of mood expression, whether positive or negative 

Distractibility

 

How easily the person is distracted by unexpected stimulus. 



Quality of Mood

 

The amount of pleasant and cheerful behavior (positive mood), as contrasted 



with fussy, sad and unpleasant behavior (negative mood) 

Persistence/Attention Span

 

How long the person will keep at a difficult activity without giving up 



 

3 Temperament Types 

 

Easy* or Flexible** (about 40% of most groups of children) 

Typically, the easy child is regular in biological rhythms, adaptable, approachable, and generally positive in mood 

of mild to medium intensity.  Such a child is easy for caregivers.  S/he is easily toilet trained, learns to sleep through 

the night, has regular feeding and nap routines, takes to most new situations and people pleasantly, usually adapts 

to change quickly, is generally cheerful and expresses her/his distress or frustration mildly.  In fact, children with 

easy temperaments may show very deep feelings with only a single tear rolling down a check.



 

 

Difficult* or Feisty** (about 10% of children) 

The feisty child is the opposite of the easy child.  The child may be hard to get to sleep through the night, her or his 

feeding and nap schedules may change from day to day, and the child may be difficult to toilet train because of 

irregular bowel movements.  The feisty child typically fusses or even cries loudly at anything new and usually 

adapts slowly.  All too often this type of child expresses an unpleasant or disagreeable mood and, if frustrated, may 

even have a temper tantrum.  In contrast to the easy child’s reaction, an intense, noisy reaction by the feisty child 

may not signify a depth of feeling.  Often the best way to handle such outbursts is just to wait them out. 

 

Caregivers who do not understand this type of temperament as normal sometimes feel resentment at the child for 



being so difficult to manage.  They may scold, pressure or appease the child, which only reinforces her or his 

difficult temperament.  Understanding, patience and consistency, on the other hand, will lead to a “goodness of fit,” 

with a final positive adjustment to life’s demands. 

 

The Slow-to-Warm-Up* or Fearful Child** (about 15% of children) 

Finally, there is a group of children who are often called shy.  The child in this group also has discomfort with the 

new and adapts slowly, but unlike the feisty child, this child’s negative mood is often expressed slowly and the 

child may or may not be irregular in sleep, feeling and bowel elimination.  This is the child who typically stands at 

the edge of the group and clings quietly to her or his parent when taken to a store, a birthday party or a child care 

program for the first time.  If the child is pressured or pushed to join the group, the child’s shyness immediately 

becomes worse.  But if allowed to become accustomed to the new surrounds at her or his own pace, this child can 

gradually become an active, happy member of the group. 

 

 



 

* Thomas & Chess, 1990.             

 

 

    **Lally, Program for Infant/Toddler Caregivers (PITC), 1993.

 

PITC Trainer’s Manual, Module 

I.@WestEd

, The Program for Infant/Toddler Caregivers




Diane Weiss, M.S. 

 

                                                       Parenting Works, LLC 

2477 Stickney Point Road, Suite 319-B                                                                                 

diane@parentingworksllc.com

  

Sarasota, Florida 34231                                                                                                                                       (941) 320-4628                                               

 

 




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