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The 9 Stages of Temperament for Children: Understanding Your Child's Behavioral Style

Updated: Sep 8, 2023


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Are you having trouble understanding your child's behavior and why they act the way they do?


Knowing your child’s temperament can be a powerful tool in guiding them through life, and understanding their behavior. By understanding your child's temperament and the 9 stages of temperament, you can provide the best guidance for your child to help them reach their full potential.


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Definition of Temperament


Temperament is a set of inborn characteristics that determine how children, including infants, react to the world around them. Temperament is nature. It is your child’s inborn temperament that determines their response to the world. Nature gives them certain tendencies, but how you nurture them determines how those tendencies are expressed.


Temperament might determine who your child becomes, but it doesn’t determine who they have the potential to be. You can nurture a child’s strengths and help them overcome their weaknesses. You can also guide your child towards being the best version of themselves.


The 9 Stages of Temperament


Experts Chess and Thomas first identified the 9 stages of temperament. This temperament guideline can be a useful tool to help you understand how your child reacts to different situations, so you can best create an environment to help them thrive.

  1. Activity Level - This is the degree to which a child likes to be more active or less active. Some children have a lower activity level and prefer to sit, read, write, or watch TV. Other children have a high activity level and prefer to be moving, playing, and socializing.

  2. Rhythmicity - Rhythmicity is the child’s level of regularity in their sleep, feeding, and bowel movements. Some children are more regular while others are more irregular.

  3. Approach/Withdrawal - Approach/Withdrawal is the degree to which a child prefers to be around others or prefers to be alone. Some children are very social and others may be more reserved.

  4. Adaptability - This is the degree to which a child can adapt to new situations, people, and environments. Some children take longer to adjust to new situations, others can adjust more quickly.

  5. Intensity - Intensity is the degree to which a child’s feelings are strong. Some children can experience feelings more intensely, while others can experience feelings less intensely.

  6. Sensory Threshold - Sensory threshold is the point at which a child can no longer tolerate a certain sensation. It is the degree to which a child can tolerate more or less stimulation. Some children have a high sensory threshold and can tolerate more stimulation, while others have a low sensory threshold and can tolerate less stimulation.

  7. Quality of Mood - This is the child’s propensity towards either positive or negative emotions. Some children have a more positive outlook while others are more negative.

  8. Distractibility - Distractibility is the degree to which a child can focus on one task. Some children can focus easily while others may have difficulty focusing on one task.

  9. Attention Span and Persistence - Attention span and persistence are the degree to which a child can focus on one task and the length of time they can persist on that task. Some children can focus on one task for a long period of time, while others may get bored and want to move on to the next thing.


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Benefits of Understanding Your Child’s Temperament

Knowing your child’s temperament can be a powerful tool in guiding and supporting them through life. It allows you to create a more effective environment for them to grow, learn, and thrive.


Understanding your child's temperament and the 9 stages of temperament can help you to provide the best guidance for your child to help them reach their full potential. By nurturing your child's strengths and helping them to overcome their weaknesses, you can help them to be the best version of themselves.


Did you know that what your child eats also plays a role in how they routinely express their emotions? Check out the posts on food and aggression and food and hyperactivity at healthsmartkids.net.

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All blog content shared through HealthSmart! Kids is for informational purposes only and not to be construed as medical advice. Always talk with your qualified health care provider for managing your health care needs.

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