Monthly Article Archives: May 2000

Differences from Birth – Part IVRobert Brooks, Ph.D.

My last three columns have been devoted to the topic of how the inborn temperament of children influences their development and the ways in which adults respond to them. In my April column I focused on the characteristics of so-called “difficult” children. These youngsters may show some or all of the following behaviors: they are not easily satisfied, often feel adults are unfair, view the glass as half or totally empty, typically overreact to situations, are inflexible and unwilling to compromise if they do not get their way, and are prone to tantrums and outbursts. While some people have found the word “difficult” too negative and have applied other labels such as the “challenging” child or the “spirited” child, the fact remains that for most parents the task of raising these youngsters is more demanding and more emotionally draining than raising a temperamentally “easy” child. I noted in last month’’s article that there are actions that parents, teachers, and other adults can take to help temperamentally difficult children lead a more satisfying, optimistic life. I emphasized that these actions include: (a) becoming as knowledgeable as possible about temperamental differences in children so that we do not blame them (or ourselves)

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