One of the strongest influences on a child's development is temperament -- his spontaneous, reflexive way of responding to the world. A child's temperament can't be altered; it's inborn, like the color of his eyes, says Dr. McCoy. A number of traits make up a child's temperament, including:
- Activity (the amount of physical motion your child displays)
- Intensity (the level of energy in your child's responses)
- Adaptability (how easily your child adjusts to a new environment)
- Persistence (the length of time a child will pursue an activity)
For example, if you have a highly persistent baby, it's likely that she'll achieve skills sooner than other kids her age. It only makes sense that a child who relentlessly practices trying to flip from her back to her stomach will learn to roll over sooner than a child who is easily discouraged or gets sidetracked. Dr. McCoy also points out that so much practice helps a child develop the muscles and coordination she needs to achieve a given skill. A child who is less driven will take longer to strengthen the same muscles.