In spite of these widely accepted categories of temperament, your child's behavioral style isn't entirely one-dimensional. At least nine elements make up her personality. Experts use these dimensions in categorizing a child as easy, challenging, or slow to warm up.
It helps to think of these parameters as straight lines with extremes at either end, and with most children falling somewhere in the middle of each. These elements provide your child with a truly unique personality, and when you understand it, you can plan her days in ways that will keep you both content and on an even keel. Here are the factors to consider:
- Activity level. Is your child always on the go, or does he prefer to stop and smell the roses? A child at the high end of the spectrum races around the park; a child at the low end prefers to be pushed on a swing.
- Rhythmicity. Does your child like to stick to a routine, or is she a flexible flyer? A child at the high end of the continuum likely naps at the same time every day; a low-end youngster may not nap every day and seldom follows a routine.
- Approach/withdrawal. How does your child respond to new and unfamiliar situations and people? A high-end child greets new foods with eager curiosity; a child at the low end hesitates even to pat a neighbor's familiar dog.