The Nine Temperament Traits

There are nine temperament traits. Each trait has a high and low version. While there is lots of variation, it’s the high and low versions that are the most challenging to parent. Read through the descriptions below and see if your child fits any of them.


  • Low Activity: This child is laid back and content to watch others be active, these children may prefer more sedentary activities.
  • High Activity: These children are the squirmers. Even as babies they wave their arms, kick their legs and wriggle their bodies non-stop. These children are always on the go.


  • Low Adaptability: This child finds it hard to move from one part of their day to the next.
  • High Adaptability: These children transition from one activity to the next with no problem. They accept your leadership and easily go from sleep to wake, from house to car or from playtime to bathtime.


  • Low Approach: This child is shy – very tentative or cautious in new situations.
  • High Approach: These children are very enthusiastic about new people and new situations. They seem bold!


  • Low Distractibility: This child doesn’t notice much. These children don’t easily stop what they’re doing—no matter how enticing the distraction might be!
  • High Distractibility: These children are easily sidetracked from one thing to another.


  • Low Intensity: This child is mellow and calm.
  • High Intensity: These children are the big responders. They squeal delightedly with happiness and shriek with despair.


  • Low Persistence: This child gives up easily in face of failure.
  • High Persistence: These children continue to do what they want—even when they’re faced with obstacles.


  • Low Positivity: This child is serious and more difficult to please. These children find it hard to have a positive attitude when they experience a setback. These children may not smile or laugh very easily.
  • High Positivity: These children are just generally sunny, cheerful and resilient in the face of setbacks. These are the children that may smile and laugh more frequently.


  • Low Regularity: This child is hard to predict. It’s difficult to tell when they’re hungry or tired.
  • High Regularity: These children seem to have internal clocks that keep them on a predictable schedule, and they don’t like to deviate!


  • Low Sensitivity: This child is blissfully unaware of things in their environment that bother others such as light, temperature, noise, textures and tastes. These children don’t easily pick up on interpersonal signals.
  • High Sensitivity: These children react strongly to even mild lights, sounds, textures, tastes and pain. They are super sensitive to even mild stimuli, and are profoundly distressed by thunderstorms or wet diapers.

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