Every child is born with a unique temperament style that affects how they react and respond to their world. In the late 1950s, temperament research began with the work of Alexander Thomas, Stella Chess, and associates. Temperament is stable and differs from personality, which is a combination of temperament and life experiences, although the two terms are often used interchangeably.
Here are three main styles of temperament.
Easy or Flexible This type of child usually has a positive, low-intensity mood, eats and sleeps regularly, has infrequent emotional outbursts and is usually pleasant and cheerful. About 40% of the population falls into this category.
Difficult or Feisty About 10% of the population falls into this category. This type of child may be fussy, hard to transition, often unpleasant or disagreeable and has tantrums. On the other hand, this type of child may burst with energy and explore things with great intensity. It's easy to want to scold, punish or resent a child with this temperament.
Slow to Warm Up or Cautious Some might call this a shy child or a highly sensitive child. This child might observe a lot on the outside of things. About 15% of the population falls into the category of always being at his own pace.
About 35% of the population can't be categorized into a temperament as they have features of all three. Parents who understand their child’s temperament have an easier time dealing with challenging behaviors.