Common Questions About Temperament

When is a child spoiled?

When a child has excessive self-centered and immature behavior for his age he is considered “spoiled.” Spoiled children frequently display a lack of consideration for others and demand to have their own way. They have difficulty delaying gratification, and are prone to temper outburst, tantrums or excessive crying spells, if they do not feel they get what they want. Overall, they are difficult to satisfy and very demanding. Such behavior may be expected at times with all children, but by age three they should begin to gain control of their emotions.

How does spoiling happen?

The most common cause is the failure of parents and caretakers to set and enforce age appropriate limits. By discussing these with their child and being consistent among all care givers for the child.

Do healthy infants cry?

Average healthy infants cry for an average of 2 ¼ hours per day in the first seven weeks of life. Such crying should be expected. However, by the time they can communicate their needs verbally, crying behavior should become less and less.

What should I do when my baby cries?

Try to find out what she is trying to tell you. Go through a series of steps to see what she wants. After making sure that she is not uncomfortable due to wet or soiled diaper, or is too hot or cold, try feeding. If unsuccessful, then try to holding and mildly stimulating the infant. Always provide the opportunity for her to go to sleep.

When does the meaning of a child’s cry change?

After four to six months of age, an infant’s cry starts to be used in a way to get attention. After this age he is trying to communicate. Remember, children who are tired, sleepy, hungry or ill are most easily frustrated and most apt to cry.

What is temperament?

The inborn behavioral response style which children are born with is known as their temperament.

Are there any patterns of temperament more difficult to deal with?

Yes. There are certain patterns which cause parents’ problems, particularly, if the parents attempt to suddenly and drastically change their child’s behavior.

Why is it important to know my child’s temperament?

You must not overrespond to your child’s behavior. Often it is the temperament which you are seeing rather than “spoiled behavior.” Instead, set limits and rules which are reasonable for your child. Be detached enough not to take your child’s action and behavior personally. Do not overact to troublesome behaviors.

Do infants have temperament?

Yes. All infants are different, but we see three general patterns, plus combinations of these (see below).

Can you describe some temperament patterns?

Some infants are “difficult” and settle slowly. They do not adapt to change well and frequently overreact to stimulation. They accept schedules poorly. On the other extreme are the “easy-going” infants who are less moody and more easily satisfied and remain satisfied longer. Their eating, sleeping and stooling pattern are also more regular. They tend to react less severely and more consistently to caretakers, foods, and various situations without “bad” moods. Lastly, there is a group of children best described as “slow to warm up,” who have characteristics of both groups, but become more satisfiable as they become comfortable with the surroundings and the care taker.

How do I respond to my child?

Determine your child’s developmental level and you will then know what behaviors to expect from your child. Remember, a toddler’s curiosity is normal and the best way to handle it is to “child proof” the house rather saying “no” all the time. Do not try to “correct” or change watch and every behavior that does not meet your standard. Work patiently and discuss your standards with other experienced mothers.