A conviction that we have and which must be weeded out is, that there is a bad character and a good character, there is just a character. This is a prejudice which we parents often have. Each child is different, each child has his own character, his own personality which, through relationships with him, we must learn to understand more, in all its overtones. By doing this, we can find the best way to help him to grow, using his abilities, his characteristics and also his difficulties.
Some aspects of a child’s character, which make him different from the others, are clear from the very beginning. Temperament is a biological component of our character. Some characteristics of our person which we are born with, make us unique individuals and each temperament has its strong points and its critical issues.
The traits which make up a temperament are:
–Vivacity. Some children are very vivace, they always want to run jump, climb, they can’t stay still. Others, instead are less vivace: they prefer more tranquil activities such as reading a book or doing a puzzle. Others are moderately vivace.
–Rythmic. Some children have predictable rhythms: they wake up, are hungry, they play, they go to the toilet, they go to sleep more or less at the same time every day. Others have changeable rhythms: the “moments” during the day are always changing, each day has a different hour. Other children have rhythms which fit in the medium.
-Approach. Some children are attracted by new situations: they smile at strangers, they go up to a group of children and start playing with them, they make friends easily. They try new foods, they are happy to go to new places. Others, instead, avoid new situations. They avoid strangers, they take a lot of time to fit in a new group, they are less willing to to try new foods or go to new places. Others children have an approach which fits in the medium.
-Adaptability. Some children adapt easily to changes of routine, places and people. In two days they have adapted to new rhythms, times, and to a new teacher. Other children are slow to adapt, sometimes it takes months. Other have a medium capacity.
-Distractable. Some children are easily distracted. They go from one activity to another according to what attracts them at that moment. They find it hard to complete an activity because their attention moves con-temporarily in different directions. When they are sad or disappointed it’s easy to change their mood by involving them in something new. Others, instead, are not easy to distract. They spend more time sitting and reading and when they are angry or sad it is difficult to attract their attention to something else. Others are distractable at a medium level.
–Perseverance. Some children are very persevering and they dedicate themselves to an activity until they have finished it. When they have a goal in mind they will carry on till they reach it: failure doesn’t stop them, it’s difficult to get them to stop when they are interested in something. Others, instead, are less persevering: if they fall, they stop climbing, if they can’t solve a puzzle quickly, they lose interest. It’ s easy to convince them to stop what they are doing. Others are in the medium.
-Intensity. Some children have very intense reactions to events and situations. If they have difficulty completing a puzzle, they scream and throw the pieces away. They express their emotions intensely: for example, anger, sadness, happiness. Others, instead, have more toned down reactions. They cry softly when they are sad and smile gently when they are happy. It’s not always easy to understand what these children are feeling. Others have a medium level of intensity.
To be made in one way or the other is not a fault, or a limit for our children. They are made like that! Sometimes, with good intentions, we push them in a direction which is difficult for them to undertake. It is our job to learn to understand them better; in this way our love will be concrete, useful and in the right measure, it will be a love that he will feel sure of. Trying to change a child’s temperament is not possible. We can however, notice his strong points, promote them and at the same time understand his difficulties, and by doing this, find ways to create harmonious growth.