Temperament is each person's unique way of thinking, behaving, and
reacting to other people and situations. Although every person is different,
basic patterns of temperament exist, such as being shy and withdrawn or
outgoing and eager to try new things.
Temperament often affects a person's:
Emotional responses. For example, some babies
are more sensitive to stimuli and are easily overloaded. These babies may react
to playful rocking or tickling by crying. Babies
who are less sensitive might squeal with delight.
Ability to focus without being
distracted. Although this is partially a learned skill, a person's ability to
concentrate on one thing at a time is also a trait that is related to
temperament. People who are easily frustrated or very sociable may have a hard
time staying on task.
Ability to adapt to changing situations.
Some people seem to naturally be able to embrace change. Others are very
resistant to any new routine.
Activity level. Some people like to
interact with people and be "on the go." Others prefer quiet activities and are
Temperament is greatly shaped and affected by a person's life
experiences and environment. For example, a shy child who is hugged and praised
often will develop self-confidence. This helps him or her respond in a
positive way to new situations.
Temperament may change over time as a person ages.
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics & Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics