How Do I Know What A Child's Temperament Is Likely to Be?

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated March 23, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Lauren Guilbeault, LMHC

Your child's personality is shaped by how you raise them and the interactions they have with other people. However, some aspects of their personality are genetic. This is known as the temperament of the child. Some children are naturally easygoing, while others are stubborn. Some children are talkative, others are shy, and some are a combination of both. Knowing the temperament of your child can help you and others raise them to be the best person possible.


The Nine Temperament Traits

The nine temperament traits can be able to tell you your child's personality. These traits can be scored individually as well as in observance with other traits. It can measure a child's personality with school, friends, at home, and any other place. Certain temperament traits can affect how they learn and how they can concentrate on other aspects of life.

Some temperaments go well with society. However, other temperaments do not. If a child is sensitive emotionally, it can make it hard to function well in school, and someone should be aware of their temperament to raise them as effectively as possible.

It should be noted these traits are measured in levels. Being on either extreme is usually not a good thing.

Trait 1: Activity Level

This trait measures how active a child is and how much energy they may have. Either extreme can be bad. If a child has low energy, they may find it hard to perform certain tasks, even if they want to. They may come off as lazy or unmotivated. Meanwhile, a child who has too much energy can't seem to sit still. When they are in an environment where they have to sit down for a while, they will rock back and forth and fidget. When they can play outside, they seem to have much more energy than everyone else. They may come across as hyperactive or obnoxious. The ideal trait for many is to be energetic but be able to control your energy if appropriate.

Trait 2: Sensitivity To Changes

We are always faced with environmental changes. A child may have problems with changes in the environment, and this trait measures how they can handle such changes. A child who is very sensitive may be bothered by even the slightest changes to their environment. For example, if there is a fan blowing in the background, they may become distracted by that. If their clothes itch, that's another problem. Having high sensitivity can make the child more empathetic, but it can distract. Meanwhile, a child has little sensitivity may be able to focus, but may not notice changes in the environment. This can range from annoying, such as trying to get the child to listen to you, or dangerous, such as an alarm going off and them not noticing.

Trait 3: Regularity

Regularity is the routine of a child. A child with a regularity level that is high love to have a schedule and a routine. They love getting up in the mornings and going to school and going to bed at a certain time. When there is too high of a level, they may become disturbed if there is a change to the routine. Those who have little sensitivity have a hard time adjusting to routines, which can be a problem for those who live on routines. However, this can mean they don't care if plans change.


Trait 4: Approach Vs. Withdrawal

This measures how your child reacts to a new dilemma or situation. Children who favor approach will face a problem head-on, but they may react to the problem too quickly before they can have everything they need to solve it. Kids with withdrawal will hesitate and wait before making a decision, but too much withdrawal will mean they ignore the problem or not be able to experience new events. The ideal personality for many is someone who wants to approach new situations but also prepares themselves reasonably.

Trait 5: Adaptability

This measures how a child can get used to a new event or situation. For example, how they get used to a new school or a new environment. Children who can adapt easily can be able to adjust to life quite well. However, too much adaptability may mean the child will adapt problematic traits, such as getting in with the wrong crowd. Children who have a harder time adapting to something may lose the patience of other people, and they will have a harder time performing, but they are less likely to be influenced negatively.

Trait 6: Mood

This measures a child's tendency to be happy or unhappy. Some children are more negative, while others are more positive. A negative child will have a harder time with acceptance, and people are taking care of them may have a hard time figuring out of anything's wrong with them, or if this is just their natural temperament. However, a negative child can be able to be realistic about some situations. A positive child will go far, but may not be realistic in some scenarios.

Trait 7: Intensity

This is how much energy a child displays when they are responding to a stimulus. A child who is intense will respond highly to any situation. They may laugh a lot at a corny joke, or cry a lot if something sad happens. An intense child has a mood that is easier to figure out, and they can tell you how they feel about something. However, their intense reaction may turn off some people. Meanwhile, a less intense child may seem apathetic to most stimuli, and while this can make them peaceful, but their emotions are harder to detect. A child with low intensity may find a joke funny, but may not laugh at it, for example.

Trait 8: Persistence

This is how a child can be able to pursue performing a task even if there are distractions or frustrations. A child who is highly persistent can finish their homework with ease, even if it's challenging. However, too much persistent can make them a perfectionist, and this can make them beat themselves up. Also, too much persistence can mean that the child doesn't ask for help even if they need it.


A child with low persistence may be frustrated with problems, or be interrupted by distractions. This can let them take breaks and realize if something is too hard for them. They are open to receive help more often, but that can be a problem when there is a deadline.

Trait 9: Distractibility

This trait measures how often a child can be interrupted by distractions or noises. This doesn't affect persistence. A child may be persistent but easily distracted. They will finish their task, but not as fast as someone who has high persistence and low distractibility. A distracted child may move their focuses to something else. This can help them be aware of the world around them, but the problem, as you imagine, is when they can't focus. A child is not easily distracted can finish their tasks, but may ignore outside noise that tells them to stop. Or they may not notice an alarm going off.

These are the nine temperaments. They can affect your child in numerous ways, but they do not predetermine your child's fate. Those who have measurements in the middle are quite flexible. Extremes can be harder to handle, but there is hope if one wants to adjust them and make sure your child is doing well.

It all depends. A child who is persistent, not easily distracted, and has plenty of energy can succeed. However, a child who is completely the opposite may not be able to perform well in life and may need the assistance of others. This isn't to say they are doomed to fail; they can learn and perform tasks in a way that complements their style. However, it can be harder for some adults to be able to sympathize with them.

How To Know Your Child's Temperament


Knowing your child's temperament can help you and the school teach them in the most effective way possible. With that said, how exactly are you able to measure it? There are quite a few ways you can do so. One way is to try an online test. You can find temperament scales, and you can measure the child's ability yourself.

However, the problem with that is that you may be biased, and you may not be qualified to measure a child's personality. In this situation, you should take your child to a counselor or another professional who deals with child psychology. Speak to a counselor today and get your child measured.

Helpful mental health resources delivered to your inbox
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Therapist
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.