Observation Guidelines: Noticing Temperament in Infants and Toddlers (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010


Tony is shy around other people, especially adults not in his immediate family. He would rather sit and play alone than join in an active group of toddlers climbing outside. His caregiver occasionally helps him join in on enjoyable interactions with other children.

Implication :

For children who show high sociability, encourage this disposition. Also encourage them to sit and do quiet activities on their own. For children who show low sociability, let them warm up to new people slowly. For example, hold a child in your arms when meeting a new person; sit near the child when he or she ventures to play with an unfamiliar peer; and offer reassurance in new settings (“Let’s go visit the preschool room and see what they do in there—they have an awesome slide”).


Look For:

Ease with change

  • Has an easy time with transitions, such as moving inside after outdoor play
  • Notices changes in environment, such as new furniture, with interest but no concern

Difficulty with change

  • Resists new objects and experiences, such as new cups with a different kind of lid
  • Acts out during transitions between activities
  • Is suspicious of new people


Thomas frets when going to bed at night. He acts out whenever the routine changes at school. When going somewhere new, he demands continual attention from a trusted adult. His caregiver gives him plenty of warning when a change in routine is expected and talks to him about novel events before they happen.

Implication :

When children show ease with change, continue to make their world challenging, but also predictable. With children who have difficulty with change, establish routines so that children know what to expect from day to day, advise them when there is a departure from a regular routine (“Our nap time will be a little late today because we have a special visitor”), give them warning about a change (“When I turn off the light, it will be time to pick up toys”), and give choices when possible (“Would you prefer to build blocks or go to dramatic play?”).


Look For:

High persistence

  • Can wait patiently while drink or bottle is being prepared
  • Shows tolerance for frustration

Low persistence

  • Wants comfort immediately
  • Gets frustrated easily


Rosemary shows no tolerance for frustration. When she is hungry, she wants her meal now! When completing puzzles, she gets angry when pieces don’t fit immediately into the proper slots.

Implication :

For highly persistent children, explain what you are doing to meet their needs (“I’m slicing up these apples for a healthy snack”) and comment on their progress toward goals (“You are working hard on that puzzle!”). For children who show little persistence, offer comfort when they are frustrated (“Can I sit with you while you do that?”), help them to consider other ways to reach their desired goal (“What if you turned the puzzle piece around like this?”), and encourage them to break up difficult tasks into smaller, more manageable parts.

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