Understanding Children’s Temperaments


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Have you ever wondered why children of the same parents act and behave in stark contrast to one another or why two children growing under the same conditions have different responses to situations? Interestingly, everyone acts the way they do for specific reasons. These reasons are generally referred to as temperaments. Temperament is a person’s normal manner of thinking, behaving or reacting. Temperaments are usually inborne as postulated by Hippocrates. Hippocrates defined temperaments as a moderate and proportionable mixture of elements or ingredients in a compound. He postulated that different temperamental behaviors were as a result of the presence or absence of a particular fluid in the body.

The importance of understanding children’s temperament is to enable parents properly imbibe the right characters and abilities in young adults and teenagers necessary for survival and proper human relation. A good knowledge of children’s temperaments also allows parents to effectively correct delinquent behaviors and other forms of moral vices without creating enmity with the child.

The major temperaments are sanguine, choleric, melancholy and phlegmatic. As we explore these temperaments, ways to handle children with each temperament will be extensively discussed. In raising children, parents need to understand that characters and abilities are not in any way related to temperaments and as such proper development and equipping of children should not be bargained for irrespective of temperament. Characters determine how a person acts, it is acquired and can be changed while abilities determine speed, depth, and strength of gaining knowledge and skills.

Choleric children and young adults are naturally result-oriented. They have active, positive, and forward movement, in an antagonistic environment. They influence their environment by overcoming opposition to get results. Choleric children and young adults are extroverted, quick-thinking, active, practical, strong-willed, and easily annoyed. They are self-confident, self-sufficient, and very independent minded. They are brief, direct, to the point, and firm when communicating with others. Cholerics like pressure and are easily bored when things are not happening fast enough. They are bold and like to take risks.

For choleric children, parents need to understand that they are enthusiastic, practical, quick thinking, impatient in their dealings, easily bored and easily annoyed. Hence, for blended families, parents need to understand the strengths and weakness of their temperaments to understand when and how to relate with them.

Sanguine children are naturally easy to relate with, offer less problems in blended families and are very accommodating. Sanguine are naturally people-oriented. They have an active, positive movement in a favorable environment. They influence their environment by encouraging others to work together.
The Sanguine has the potential for the widest range of behavior due to possessing the widest range of emotions. This allows them to participate (based on their second temperament) in any kind of human activity. They like to participate in, or change, their environment. The areas of business, politics, sports, and entertainment, to name a few, are dominated by the Sanguine temperament. Sanguine children are the easiest to manage in a blended family as they tend to be trusting and colorful.

Phlegmatics are naturally service-oriented. They are passive in both favorable and unfavorable environments. They influence their environment by cooperating with others to carry out the task. They tend to not be highly ambitious and they tend to lack a sense of urgency (both due to their passive nature). Phlegmatics are introverted, calm, unemotional, easygoing, indecisive, patient, and agreeable. They are both slow and indirect when responding to others. Phlegmatics are slow to warm-up but will be accommodating in the process. They are by far the easiest people with whom to get along—as long as you do not try to alter their routine or ask them to change.

Melancholies are detailed-oriented, operate from a plan, and they are very private. Melancholies are introverted, logical, analytical, and factual in communication. They need information, time alone to think, and a detailed plan in order to function effectively without anxiety.
Melancholies respond to others in a slow, cautious, and indirect manner. They are reserved and suspicious until they are sure of your intentions. Melancholies probe for the hidden meaning behind your words. They are timid, may appear unsure, and have a serious expression. Melancholies are self-sacrificing, gifted, and they can be a perfectionist.
Melancholies are conscientious, picky, and can be sensitive to what others think of their work.


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