You may hear me talk about temperament and personality when talking about what sleep training method is suitable for your child. But what does this actually mean and why does it affect what method is chosen?
Here I’ll be briefly explaining the 9 main temperament traits that I look for when trying to understand what your child is like and therefore what sleep training method is most appropriate for them.
1- Activity- Does your child wriggle a lot e.g. during nappy changes? Are they always on-the-go or do they prefer quieter sit-down activities? Are they quite happy to just sit and watch or do they have difficulty sitting still?
Children who have active temperaments may do well in sports, high energy careers and/or juggling lots of responsibility. I know that I was an active child which is probably especially why I love my job as a nanny!
2- Distractibility- How easily can outside stimuli interfere with your child’s activity? E.g. are they easily distracted by sights and sounds while taking a bottle? How much concentration and attention is paid to activities that are not most interesting to your child? Are they easily soothed if they get upset when they are moved onto a new activity?
The 2 main methods I use are Fade Out and Regulated Response and your child’s distractibility plays a massive role in deciding which of these methods I use!
3- Intensity- This is the positive or negative energy level shown in response to something (i.e daily or minor events). Is the response strong and dramatic both in positive and negative examples?
Intense children are more likely to get their own way. They may be great at drama but it can also be exhausting to parents.
4- Regularity- This is simply the predictability of their biological functions- e.g. appetite, sleep etc. As adult, this trait may show in how someone copes with shift work, strange working hours and long-haul travel.
I know that I am very routine based so I always know when I’ll be hungry throughout the day and can now very accurately predict when I’ll wake up! My ‘lie-in’ is now 7.30am if I’m lucky!
5- Approach/Withdrawal- This is how your child responds to new situations or new people. Will your child go to anyone happily or are they slow to warm and prefer to suss people out first? Do they move easily into new situations or hold back until they feel more comfortable with their surroundings?
Slow to warm children are more likely to think before acting and less likely to display impulsive behaviour.
6- Adaptability- How easily can your child make transitions and changes? Do they struggle with a change to their routine? Are they reluctant to change activities that they’re stuck into?
Slow to adapt means that they are less likely to rush into dangerous situations and they may be less influences by peer-pressure
7- Mood- This is the tendency to react to the World primarily in either a positive or a negative way. Is your child generally very happy or more serious? Do they appear to look on the bright side or see a lot of doom and gloom in situations?
8- Persistence- This is the length of time a child will continue in the face of obstacles. Do they continue with a challenging puzzle or give up when it gets tough? Do they react strongly when interrupted during an activity?
When we ask a persistent child to stop and they don’t, we often see them as stubborn, but when he keeps going with a tricky task, they’re seen as persistent!
A persistent child will be better equipped to reach their goals while a child with low persistence will gain social skills by finding people who can help them
9- Sensory threshold- How sensitive is your child to physical stimuli? How much stimulation (e.g. sound, touch, temperature, taste) is needed to get a response from your child? Do they positively, negatively or startle easily to sounds? Are they a fussy eater or will they eat almost anything? Are they sensitive to touch and the feel of clothing/ materials?
Highly sensitive children are more likely to become more artistic and creative.
If we were to score a child from 1-10 for how strong or weak each temperament trait was present:
- Those who score weakly on many of these traits would be pretty easy going, content children who are reasonably adaptable and can more easily ‘go with the slow’.
- Those who score strongly on many of these traits would be classed as ‘alert’ children. They are usually into everything and are observant and inquisitive.
‘Alert’ children typically have a harder time with sleep which is the main reasons why most of my clients have alert children. They often have a harder time shutting down as they have busy minds that are constantly processing what they are learning. You may find that they delay sleep by asking lots of questions, practicing new skills and trying their best to keep you present.
They are less likely to show their sleepy signs until it’s too late which may make them more susceptible to overtiredness. As they get older, they are more likely to need to hold onto their daytime sleep than their less alert peers.
But this is fine!.. It’s my job to listen to how you describe your children and then make them a plan suitable to how alert you say they are.
If this sounds like something you want some help with, I suggest you book a free consultation call with me and we can get you started on a plan to get your whole family getting the sleep they need!