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Your Brilliant Baby in Week 34: Establishing Temperament

Baby’s Brain in Week 34

Even though you’ve only had a few months to get acquainted with your child, you’ve likely realized that she has a distinct personality. While every parent strives to focus on the individual traits of her own baby and not make comparisons, it obvious to you and your family members that your baby is more intense, active, and sensitive than your sister’s baby who seems to be nothing less than mellow.

What the Research Shows

Research on temperament began in the late 1950s with a group of 141 children. Researchers began conducting structured clinical interviews of the children’s parents shortly after the birth of their babies and continued with follow-up interviews over several decades. Included were questions about such matters as how the children reacted to the first bath, to wet diapers, and the first taste of solid food.

As the children grew older, these interviews were supplemented by interviews with teachers and by tests of the children themselves. This research served as a starting point for later studies on temperament: nine temperamental characteristics have been identified.

  • Activity level: Is he very active, not so active, or somewhere in between?
  • Rhythmicity: Is she regular or irregular in regards to her basic biological functions?
  • Approach-withdrawal: Does she seem to enjoy new situations or is she slow-to-warm-up?
  • Adaptability: How rapidly does the novelty of a new situation or person wear off?
  • Intensity of reaction: When he is hungry, how intense are his wails?
  • Quality of mood: Does she seem generally negative or positive?
  • Distractibility: How easily does a new activity disrupt one that’s been ongoing?
  • Persistence: What’s the extent to which an activity, once undertaken, is maintained?
  • Level of sensitivity: How intense does a sensory stimulus (lights, noise, or activity) need to be for your child to respond?

Week 34 Brain Booster

The research is mixed as to whether temperamental characteristics remain stable throughout childhood and into adulthood. You might conduct your own bit of longitudinal research: Consider your child’s temperament at eight months, eight years, and at age 18. Notice if her traits remain the same or if they’ve changed.

Your Week 34 Toolbox

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