Understanding How Temperament Types Affect Your Parenting Style

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated March 19, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Your personality traits and temperament can affect your thoughts and behavior patterns—which means that for many, your temperament type may also influence your parenting style. Read on to learn about the link between temperament types, parenting styles and personality, methods to make meaningful changes if necessary, and how therapy can be a valuable tool to help develop positive, practical patterns and restore peace for yourself and your family.

A father and his daughter are sitting on a couch; he is leaning over and has his hand on her shoulder, and she is putting money in a piggy bank, they are both smiling.
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What are the primary personality traits?

According to recent research cited in Scientific American,  the five-factor model of personality (also called “The Big Five”) is generally the standard model for typical personality traits in modern medicine. D. W. Fiske is attributed with first developing the theory in 1949 by many, and it has been expanded upon multiple times through the years by other researchers to reach its current iteration. The Myers-Briggs model is similar to the five-factor model, but they each focus on different traits. Each trait is generally meant to be viewed as a range, with a single person landing between two extremes for each attribute or temperament (in most cases). We’ve summarized the traits and types below: 

Extroversion (Vs. Introversion) 

This personality trait generally refers to how you interact with other people. People high in the extroversion trait might display substantial emotional expression, natural abilities with sociailization, assertiveness, excitability, and the tendency to value meaningful conversations. Social situations may give you energy, which could otherwise be draining for someone with a higher level or preference towards introversion. People with high levels of this trait may enjoy the attention and meeting new people, and may not hesitate to start conversations or make new friends. People higher on the introversion end, however, will be the opposite and social situations may negatively affect their energy.

Agreeableness (Vs. Antagonism)

This personality trait generally refers to prosocial behaviors such as affection, kindness, trust, and altruism. People with high levels of this trait may have an interest in having compassion for others, as well as a strong sense of self-awareness and empathy. They may find joy and interpersonal harmony by helping others, particularly those in need of assistance. 

Openness (Vs. Unconventionality)

This personality trait can refer to how open you are to new experiences. Characteristics such as imagination, insight, and curiosity might be emphasized with this specific dichotomy. If you align with this personality type, you may be more open to learning new things or creating unique experiences. People with higher levels of this trait might be outgoing, adventurous, creative and engage in pleasure-seeking behaviors, often succeeding as fantastic entertainers. Those with lower levels of openness may struggle with open-minded thinking, perhaps preferring traditional values and practices. 

Conscientiousness (Constraint Vs. Disinhibition)

This personality trait can include thoughtfulness, impulse control and goal-directed behaviors. People aligning with this personality type may be highly organized and able to pay attention to details while meeting deadlines, they will probably be more goal-oriented, often succeeding as fantastic managers. You might often plan or consider how your actions affect others. People with low levels of this trait might, in contrast, display less structured patterns and can procrastinate often. 

Neuroticism (Emotional Instability Vs. Stability)

This personality trait generally refers to one’s emotional stability, particularly as it relates to levels of sadness and moodiness in someone’s life. People with high levels of this trait may experience frequent mood swings, sadness, nervousness, and irritability. In contrast, those low in this trait often might show more emotional stability and resilience. People with this trait may also be more likely to have poor mental health or some kind of personality disorder.

While these are only five personality traits, they all exist on a spectrum or scale, and combined they can result in quite a variety of personality types. While this model may not cover the entire scope of human behavior, it often serves as a decent baseline for categorizing different types of people.

How temperament types develop

Environmental and biological factors can influence how your personality and temperament types develop. Both nature and nurture elements can determine how each of the five personality traits develops as you age. As each person has unique experiences throughout their life, this can result in countless types of main temperaments.

Recent research suggests that our personalities and temperament do change with age. We’ve summarized the key points of change below:  

  • Extroversion may decline from age 30 to 90, with a possible pronounced drop around age 50.
  • Agreeableness may show a linear increase with age.
  • Conscientiousness might peak between the ages of 50 and 70, then it may decline. 
  • Neuroticism might decline with age, possibly increasing around age 80.
  • Openness might have a negative linear association with age. 

Other personality type theories

The “big five” personality traits are widely accepted in modern psychology; they are not the only personality trait theory. The four temperament theory posits that there are four primary temperaments, phlegmatic temperament, sanguine temperament, choleric temperament, and melancholic temperament. The four temperaments are not all or nothing and human beings may be a blend of different temperament styles, such as sanguine phlegmatic. Each temperament style has different qualities, strengths, and weaknesses that dictate human behavior. While there are individual temperament differences that change depending on the person, some of the tell-tale markers for the type of temperament are as follows: 

Phlegmatic temperament

Phlegmatic temperament individuals are typically service-oriented and focus on helping others rather than their personal ambitions. Phlegmatic temperaments are also routine-oriented and may avoid change or conflict when possible. 

Sanguine temperament

Sanguine people tend to have the temperament of an extroverted change-maker. They are able to get people to work together and possess leadership skills. Sanguine temperament individuals are competitive and need to fit in or be seen as important. They can also struggle with addictions and constant cravings due to their pleasure-seeking behaviors.

Chloreric temperament

A person with a pure choleric temperament is an independent thinker and doer. They are active, and typically extroverted. A person’s behaviour with this temperament will often be bold, risk-taking, and willing, doing anything necessary to get the desired result. 

Melancholic temperament

Melancholic temperament individuals tend to be concerned with getting things right. Melancholic personalities tend to be rule oriented and focus on doing things by the book. Also, you may find that melancholic temperament people are often introverted and well-organized. 

Often modern medicine rejects the four personality types, defining them as an ancient medical concept. However, this ancient concept, which was developed in ancient Greece by Hippoocrates’, along with other medical theories like the predominant humors, has been a great basis for developing more recent psychological theories.

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What is a parenting style?

While there are many ways to parent, many may find that all methods have a striking resemblance to to the three fundamental styles—introduced by psychologist Diana Baumrind in the 1960s. The goal of these styles was to help explain how parents can socialize and best support their children. Researchers then added a fourth style in the 1980s, further iterating on the initial model provided by Baumrind. 

Each parenting style takes multiple factors into account, acknowledging elements that can shape the home's emotional climate and family dynamic in different ways. Characteristics like boundaries, affection, guidance and expectations are some of the most critical facets of all foundational parenting styles. The four temperaments simply measure how a parent or guardian may interact with their child. We’ve summarized the styles below: 

Types of parenting styles

  • Authoritarian parenting generally shows low emotional response, with a high or inflexible expectation demand. 
  • Authoritative parenting may offer children a high-response, high-demand authority figure. 
  • Permissive parenting might display few limits, little guidance and high emotional response.
  • Neglectful parenting can exhibit low demand and low response, with little (if any) emotional relationship.

We do want to note that this summary serves to be a summary only. Variation is to be expected within any type of parenting style used, generally influenced by environmental factors or other surrounding circumstances. 


Parents using an authoritarian parenting style generally establish clear definitions for the roles of caregivers and children. Communication might be one-sided, and may involve parents or guardians giving orders and expecting obedience. Children might also be given strict rules without explanation, and harsh punishments for misbehavior. Authoritarian parenting can create well-behaved children, because the consequences are well-known and might be avoided as a result. Additionally, these children might function well in group dynamics with a clear power structure or authority figure. However, children raised with this type of parenting style may demonstrate trouble managing anger, decision-making or rebellious tendencies as a result. 


Authoritative parents generally find a balance between healthy emotional support and consistent boundaries with guidance. Communication might be frequent, with many parents choosing to actively listen to their children’s opinions. Children may be given clear rules, explanations and reasonable consequences should they fail to meet expectations. Disciplinary efforts might be focused on learning and growth. Many find that the authoritative style creates confident and well-adjusted adults who may be better able to identify, control and express their emotions while displaying healthy self-esteem and independence. 


Permissive parents might give their children high emotional support and attention with very little structure, rules or discipline. The role between parent and friend, in this case, may be blurred. Communication might be frequent and open, but children may be given little control or guidance regardless of the communication pattern or flow. Many children might benefit from boundaries during their formative years, which can result in them having realistic expectations of acceptable behavior as adults. Conversely, children of permissive parents might be selfish, demanding or impulsive, perhaps experiencing difficulties with self-control or boundary creation. 


A cool, distant bond might form when parents or guardians establish a relationship with their children offering low demand and low response. There may not be any clear parent-child roles, and children might be given freedom with little or no emotional support or guidance. The child’s basic survival needs may be met, but caregivers may still maintain emotional detachment to a certain degree. Children of uninvolved or neglectful parents might be more self-sufficient, developing resiliency as they learn not to rely on others. However, as adults, they may display difficulty with emotional control, academic skills or challenges establishing or continuing positive social relationships with others. 

The link between parenting and temperament types

Researchers have continued to study how parental personality and behavior can influence a child’s future character and psychological type. Current findings suggest that parents who are willing to experience new things and care for others may raise children with high conscientiousness and openness. In contrast, those with high neuroticism or low agreeableness may raise children who display symptoms of mental health conditions or self-absorbed behavior—as this may have been their first example of socially acceptable conduct. “It was found that parental warmth was positively associated with child extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness to experience, and negatively associated with child neuroticism.” — Ayoub, et al., in a research paper detailing the links between the Big Five and parenting.

Can you change your personality?

While personality can be a relatively stable thing throughout life, it is possible to identify and replace undesired thought patterns and behaviors. Many choose to do this with the help of therapeutic treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which are executed by a licensed therapist.  

What is the ideal parenting style?

Authoritative parenting is considered by many to be the ideal style for child rearing due to the clear behavioral expectations, parental guidance, age-appropriate responsibility and nurturing emotional support. In this style, children may be given the opportunity to learn from mistakes, as well as the encouragement to develop emotional intelligence and literacy. They may also develop an acute awareness of others’ feelings and motivations. 

How to evolve your parenting style

If you wish to change certain elements of your parenting style, you may consider speaking with a therapist for advice and support. They can help you develop positive, practical coping skills to manage stress, as well as the parenting strategies and communication skills needed that help your child excel. 

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How can online therapy help parents?

Many parents may seek support and guidance through online therapy. Platforms like BetterHelp offer flexible appointment formats that allow you to receive treatment at home, possibly with reduced costs and shortened wait times. Depending on your situation and goals, individual, family, or group therapy may be the most appropriate solution. Online therapy offers availability and affordability compared to the traditional in-office setup. In addition to therapy, BetterHelp offers medically reviewed articles on a variety of topics relating to personality, relationships, mental health, and more.

According to cited in Forbes, virtual treatment can be as effective as (and frequently more convenient than) traditional in-person therapeutic formats. This can be especially true for people living with depression, anxiety disorders, and mental health conditions. 


Understanding the connections between personality and parenting style can be a useful first step in achieving your ideal level of emotional stability. The information included in this article may help you recognize personality traits and parenting habits and give you the necessary information to talk to your healthcare provider or therapist. Online therapy has been suggested to be comparably effective when compared to in-person therapeutic formats. BetterHelp can connect you with a therapist in your area of need.
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