Principles for Dealing with Temperament Issues (Part 6f )

Today, we continue with amplification of the sixth principle and how caregivers can adapt to children’s temperamental issues. The strategies below are focused on the level of intensity of a child’s reactions.

Handling differing levels of intensity in children’s reactions

Reading to a child
Avoid responding intensely. Instead, try to respond calmly and in a quiet voice.

In our continuing discussion of how to deal with children’s temperamental issues, we now address those children who can be characterized as extremely intense in how they go about their lives. The opposite is the child who lacks appropriate intensity for what would be expected from a healthy child. Strategies are below.

For a child who has intense reactions:

  • Try to remain calm and respond quietly when soothing a crying baby. Avoid rocking the child too vigorously.
  • Identify triggers for outbursts and use positive behavioral support strategies.
  • Avoid responding intensely. Instead, try to respond calmly and in a quiet voice. 
  • Listen to concerns and discuss them while looking for a solution.
  • Persist in your limit-setting and do not give in to achieve peace.
  • Ask the child to talk about the upset in a calm manner instead of screaming in a rage. to use a quiet voice, and appropriate expression such as, “No thank you.”
  • Sometimes it helps to step away from an intense situation.
  • Provide calming activities such as playing with water, soft music and so forth.
  • Watch for cues that intensity is building, and intervene before things become too much. Redirect the child to another activity as soon as possible.
  • Provide activities that allow the child to touch, smell, hear and see things.
  • Use time-outs when child and parent are becoming upset, to allow everyone to calm.

    Reading at a picnic
    Encourage the child to express opinions and talk about her feelings.

For a child who has little or no intense reactions:

  • Listen to the child’s opinions and requests even though they are expressed mildly.
  • Take complaints or expression of pain or upset very seriously.
  • Encourage the child to express opinions and talk about her feelings.
  • Make sure the child is given an opportunity to receive soothing and containment even when the reaction seems mild and low key.

Extremes of behaviors

Children’s extremes of behaviors can be quite frustrating to caregivers. Like other temperamental issues, these kinds of behaviors and characteristics can be easily misinterpreted and cause some caregivers to choose to label and discipline for reasons that are not true to temperament. Whether too much intensity or a lack of intensity, strategies to handle this and other temperamental issues are helpful.

It is important to recognize temperamental differences in children. Knowing how they react to their world allows caregivers to be most effective and most helpful to our children as they react and grow in an ever-changing world. 

Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network  

Source: Information taken from Pathways to Competence, Encouraging Healthy Social and Emotional Development in Young Children, Second Edition by Sarah Landy, pp 54-55. 

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