Understanding Your Child's Personality

Gauging Intensity of Reaction

As you read about these characteristics, picture each one as a continuum. Although we describe each end of the range, many children fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.

1. Intensity of Reaction

Kids like Carlos tell the world loud and clear how they feel. They're what we would call big reactors. Intense kids like these might squeal at the top of their lungs when they're happy, and shout, throw things, or hit when they're mad. Kids on the low range of intensity tend to be quiet and rarely fuss, sleep more than average, and show their emotions with only slight changes in facial expression or tone of voice.

Characteristics: From "I just want to chill" to "I want everyone to know how I feel" kids

What you can do for a low-key child:

  • Turn things up to attract her attention. Choose music with a dynamic beat. Use a dramatic voice while reading.
  • Devise activities that involve taking turns so your child remains engaged.
  • Get her body moving. Low-intensity children are often more responsive if they're mobile.

What you can do for the big reactor:

  • Turn things down. Music and lighting should be soft.
  • Anticipate blowups. Gently remove your child from potentially explosive situations. Try redirecting -- getting him engaged in a different activity -- or just give him a big hug.
  • Make sure your child gets the sleep he needs.

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