When we talk about our children we often talk about their temperament. Maybe they are boisterous or difficult to get motivated, strong willed, easily distracted, shy or maybe a picky eater. There are so many ways we describe our infants. Temperament has long been the only measure of children’s individual differences. The 10 temperament traits; Activity Level, Approach/Withdrawal, Adaptability, Sensory Sensitivity, Intensity of Reaction, Distractibility, Persistence, Quality of Mood, Regularity and Emotional Sensitivity are characteristics suggested to be what is required to be managed and controlled.
The science of flourishing has brought us a new way to look at how are children interact with the world around them. Character strengths are 24 individual differences which are to be encouraged and cherished.
A few Character strengths and their association with typical child temperaments.
Below is a list of some of the elements of a child’s temperament and their associated character strengths.
Activity level – when activity levels are classed as high it is closest to the child character strength of zest
Distractability – when your child is highly distractable they are likely to be high in curiosity
Approach/withdrawal (openness to new experiences) when low on approachable and closer to withdrawn they are likely to be high on prudence. When high on approachable they are again likely to be highly curious.
High regularity, adaptability, high and low sensitivity, positive moods, high and low intensity of reaction, are all associated with the character strength of self-regulation which is of great importance to learn in childhood to promote flourishing in adulthood.
The flexibility of Character
It is important to think of everything as being flexible rather than fixed, if you get into a mindset of the characteristics or temperament of your child as being fix, you close off your openness to the possibility of change, and you limit your child’s potential.
How to use your Child’s Character strengths
Rather than working on managing these individual differences of temperament, look at them as your child’s strengths, and work with your child on finding the golden mean of their use. (This means the right strength at the right time for the right reason.)