The Relationship Between Temperament and Parenting

So, say you have a child who’s temperament is very different to yours (e.g. they are very sensitive and adaptable) and you are a person who is very easy going but like to be in a strict routine.  How do you accommodate their needs and your own? If not handled sensitively, this is where the problem may begin for you and your child.

There is not much that can be said about this. So the point of me reading this is?? – you might be saying to yourself. Well, I wanted to touch on this simply to bring your awareness to this factor, to know the impact of temperamental traits on your child’s character, and also your own, and how this may impact on the way in which you parent them. The problem with not being aware of this is that you might feel you did a great job with your first child (who may well have had had a similar temperament to you) and wonder why problems have arisen with this second, third (or 9th!!) child.

Recognising the difference of temperament traits is key to the way in which you interact with this child and will have a major effect on their future development. For example, if your child has quite a sensitive temperament (i.e. they can get upset easily by noise or new faces around), and you are not very sensitive to this part of their character, then this could cause some emotional dysfunction and lack of emotional bond between parent and child.

Also, recognise that the way your child’s personality develops depends on a number of factors so is not necessarily your doing. Don’t feel like you have failed as a parent. If you know you are doing the best you can then it is something that will just require a bit more work and understanding (which can appear to be unreciprocated which is the most difficult part of it all!).

Remember that your child’s temperament will start to be formed while still in utero. It has been proved that the impact of your own stress levels will change the resulting temperamental traits developed within your child. This is also particularly the case during breast feeding as the stress hormone, cortisol, is transmitted to your baby from your breast milk. In saying this, nothing is perfect and you can’t expect 0% stress during and after pregnancy. Worrying about feeling stressed could induce stress so I wouldn’t worry to much- its just something to be aware of.

This is just an important factor to take into consideration when you are pregnant or know someone who is in the process of this. Some people can tend to think that until your baby is born, nothing can impact it, but this is an inaccurate way to think. The importance of educating ourselves and our friends while bearing a child is invaluable, so read and share what you learn, no matter how insignificant.

If you wish to read further on this topic (seeing as though Ive only scraped the surface, so you may well want to!) I wrote a much more in-depth paper about this for my Masters studies. The paper (see link here) focuses on the impact of Temperament and Parenting on a child's emotional development, and highlights the bidirectional influences of these two factors. This paper also relates to my previous post linking parental influences to children's emotional development. I hope you enjoy reading it and if you have any questions then please do not hesitate to get in touch. 

‘happiness is something which can be taught. Lets ensure that early on’.

Jen x