Understanding Your Child's Personality

Different Kids, Different Reactions

Why do these three children react so differently to the same situation? Each of these three boys was born with his own temperament. How your child reacts to everyday routines, transitions, unfamiliar situations, and new people is influenced by his temperament.

Although there are many ways that temperament can be defined, we focus here on five traits that represent the range of inborn characteristics: intensity of reaction, activity level, tolerance for frustration, response to change, and reaction to new people.

Each of these is present in every child -- what differs is how they're expressed. For example, when it comes to reaction to new people, one child might cheerfully greet a cousin he's never met, while another may not even make eye contact.

How can you tell what your child's temperament is? Between 6 and 9 months, most parents begin to see patterns in their child's behaviors that give them clues, but temperament becomes more apparent in the toddler years, as your child becomes more verbal and social.

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