No two children are alike. As a parent of two daughters, I have noticed just how unique and different children can be, even when the parents and social surroundings stay the same. Temperament is the result of the combination of genetic and social factors that determine your child’s personality foundation.
Most parents will be able to describe their baby as one of these three temperament types:
- The Easy Child : This is the child whose parents walk around with a smile on their faces the whole day long. These parents cannot fathom why other parents burst into tears from frustration and tiredness, because their baby is such an angel! This baby is able to easily adapt to her surroundings and is generally in a good mood. About 40% of parents are lucky enough to report their babies to be “easy children”.
- The Difficult Child : These parents basicly sleep walk and have dark rings under their eyes. They often feel guilty for not enjoying their child and question their parenting abilities. This baby has irregular sleeping and eating patterns, finds it difficult to adjust to a strange environment, reacts intensely to any stimuli and cries alot. About 10% of parents feel their child is “difficult”.
- The Slow-to-warm-up Baby : 15% of parents report that their baby falls into this category. This child is inactive, reacts slowly or little to stimuli and is experienced by the parents as somewhat negative.
The remaining 35% of parents felt their children had a combination of behaviour patterns.
Temperament affects the relationship between the parent and the child and as a result of that also the bonding process between them. Three different types of bondedness have been identified:
- Secure Bonding : This baby uses her mother as a security base from which she can discover the world. When separated from her mother she will show unhappiness and will be delighted when reunited. She loves physical contact from her mother, and when she comes into contact with strangers she will react positively when her mother is around.
- Avoidant Bonding : This baby seems unaffected when her mother is around, barely taking notice of her. She does not become upset when her mother leaves and avoids her when she comes back. She doesn’t explore her world when they are together and seems indifferent to the presence of strangers.
- Ambivalent Bonding: This baby becomes anxious even before her mother leaves her. When the mother does leave, she becomes extremely upset. On her return the baby behaves ambivalently – on the one hand she tries to make contact, while on the other hand she cries, kicks and hits her mom. These babies are anxious and will not dare to explore their environment. They do not like strangers even when their mother is present.
The way in which you bond with your baby is very important. This is the first relationship that she forms in her life and it will affect future relationships. The stronger the bond with the parents, the easier it will be for the child to leave her parents. Babies also form important relationships with their fathers, siblings, grandparents and other care takers.
During the baby years, parents find themselves constantly scolding their baby and the word “no” seems to be a recurring theme. This is the process of socialization where parents teach the young one what is right and what is wrong, what is expected from her and what is generally acceptable in their society. The mother becomes the teacher.
Babies from as young as six months start interacting with their peers – they smile, touch and make little noises to communicate with each other. These interactions are important in the socialization process. Interaction between children evolves from being centered on a object like a toy to trying to elicit reactions from the other babies to being able to change roles with each other (for example giving toys to one another).
As parents we should foster our relationship with our baby and encourage positive peer interaction. This should give her a good basis for future relationships that she will need to form through out her life.