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When friends live a different lifestyle

"When you do go to the Smiths' house, talk to your children beforehand. ... I tell my kids that our minimalist lifestyle is what allows us to have season passes to the zoo, science center, water park, ect. It also allows us to take vacations and it allows them to go fishing a couple times a week, like they love because mom and dad don't have to work as much as the Smiths do. We value life experiences and spending time with family more than accumulating "stuff"." go to naturemomsblog

Temperament and sports

by Shannon Fleming

"Most of us at one point or another have played or participated in a sport, whether it is volleyball, tennis, karate or pole-vaulting. Have you ever sat back and wondered why you chose that particular sport to play besides the simple fact that you love participating in it? Recent studies have shown that the complex of multiple personality traits that composes each individual may be a significant factor in which sport you prefer to play." read more

'Well, all our children are soooo different' or 'You know, there isn't much one can do as a parent because each child develops in its own way anyway'.....  Those types of sentences, uttered next to a swing in the playground, or overheard unwillingly in a cafe have never been much help to me in demystifying relations between grown-ups and between grown-ups and children. I see that there are similarities in the ways our children have developed, and I see their own unique parts. It was the idea of temperaments, in combination with the psychological development of individuals, that helped fill in the picture. readmore logo

A nugget from the adoption library online:

"If the child walks around with droopy shoulders and head hung low, we immediately jump to the conclusion that whatever problem we have has taken affect on him or he or she is "over-reacting". If the child is loud, aggressive and forceful, we assume that we must have been slack in the area of manners. If the child is constantly snacking and foraging for food, we instantly foresee a weight problem and try to keep snacks away from the child. If the child has difficulty concentrating on any one thing, we assume some attention deficit and reach for medication. These are not the answers to the problems we all face with our children. These are assumptions and quick fixes and they do not address the real issues."

"… What we are witnessing is a natural unveiling of both the child's individuality and inherited nature. Beginning to show itself between the ages of five to seven and then even more clearly between the seventh and fourteenth year, it is the building block of your child's behavior for all later years. It is not craziness, conspiracy or brain damage. It is not a defiant act or a show of pure rebellion. It is not happening only to you or your child. It is happening everywhere, to every one. What we are dealing with here is your child's temperament.

The study of temperaments is nothing new. It has been around since the time of the Greeks. Most parents are not familiar with it because in our fast moving times where everyone has a product to sell or a gimmick, it is easier to label your child as a "problem" and to prescribe a treatment or a pill. We are responsible for this as consumers because as a society, we have gotten away from taking responsibility for ourselves and for our children. With our busy schedules and lives, it is easier to entrust our children's behavior to the "experts" as we busily go about our day. readmore logo


The above very well describes how we can comprehend in a healthier way our children's general behavior. Understanding that will allow us to react appropriately if a real problem appears. For example, a generally fast-moving child who begins to seem droop-shouldered and slow might mean there is something going on that needs addressing. But that same fast-moving child in school having some trouble with science subjects that require lots of rote memorizing might not actually be being 'lazy' but rather being true to her temperament. She might require some extra help. Below, is another nicely-written contemporary description of temperaments as they relate to women. This book specifically addresses the interactions between mothers and their different temperament children.

'The Sanguine's primary motivation in life is to have fun and be popular, so I'm calling her the Popular woman. ... The Choleric wants power and control, so she'll be easy to remember as the Powerful woman.  The Melancholy is on a mission to bring perfection to an imperfect world, so I've dubbed her the Perfect woman. ... the Phlegmatic type .. is so easygoing they probably wouldn't put up much of a fuss. ... Let's call them the Peaceful women.'


The temperaments are seen in Waldorf education as one of the clues to a student's personality and the class' group dynamics. Before I attended my first lecture on the temperaments at a Waldorf school in Germany, I viewed temperaments pretty much as I viewed astrology, smiling politely but distanced at people who tried to explain their child with the words Leo or Pisces or Virgo - or choleric or phlegmatic.

If temperament is biologically based, is it found in all cultures?

"Temperamental differences in behavior are found in all cultures but individual differences in behavioral style may have different implications in environments other than our own. Researchers have been actively studying these differences for many years. One early report that indicated the profound importance of temperament in some circumstances was recorded by Dutch psychiatrist Maarten DeVries. He visited an area of Africa beset by drought and determined that the infants who survived the period of shortage tended to be the intense negative babies who screamed loudly for attention. The 'easy' quieter infants were more likely to perish." see

But, what the teacher described that evening was so funny and made so much sense to me and what I was observing in our children made so much sense that I began to pay attention. I still don't believe in astrology, but I have almost against my will begun to look at our family in terms of our temperaments and have learned quite a bit. This doesn't mean that behaviors that just 'are' should be excused; just that certain social tasks might be more difficult and require more effort than others for certain temperaments. For example, if I am on my way upstairs with an armload of laundry and I see that the dogs need feeding, I will put the laundry down and feed the dogs and then I'll remember I had to put the empty juice bottles in the recycling and then on the way the phone will ring and there will be a change in the carpool schedule for the next day and I'll go get my calendar. After that my attention will be called by our daughter who wants to show me her unicycle trick, and the laundry will be entirely forgotten. This would never happen to my husband. He would bring the laundry upstairs, put it away, and then go to feed the dogs. He would let the phone go to the answering machine while he was putting the recycling away.

I used to think this was just a lack of discipline on my part, and an efficiency brought about by German parents and school on the part of my husband. I gradually began to realize this wasn't the full explanation. For I love, deep down, a life that has lots of interesting distractions. He loves, deep down, a life that is calm and ordered.

Sanguines and melancholics are opposites; so are cholerics and phlegmatics. Any child may have a predominant temperament with, perhaps, traces of the other temperaments EXCEPT for the opposite temperament. So, for instance, a sanguine may have traces of phlegmatic and choleric, but not of melancholy. [View source]

Wilkinson, Roy, The Temperaments in Education, Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1994, pp.9-10. Odd as the internet is, this is taken from Waldorf Watch, which is a polemical site very critical of Waldorf education and stemming from the author's unpleasant school experience with what sounds like a sadistic teacher. Much of the 'kookiness' he writes about I have never come across in our 14 years in Waldorf education. 

Classroom seating in Waldorf schools

Following the principle of ‘like cures like’, the children should be seated according to their temperaments. It will be found, for instance, that the phlegmatics get so bored with one another that they wake up; the cholerics will calm one another down since no-one [sic] will be allowed to be the leader.” In general, phlegmatics should sit back where they can observe but not participate. Melancholics need a quiet corner. “The cholerics, best able to cope with any disturbance, should perhaps have a place near the door and the sanguines will not really mind where they. The center might be a good place for them.” [View source]

Wilkinson, Roy, The Temperaments in Education, Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1994, pp.9-10. Odd as the internet is, this is taken from Waldorf Watch, which is a polemical site very critical of Waldorf education and stemming from the author's unpleasant school experience with what sounds like a sadistic teacher. Much of the 'kookiness' he writes about I have never come across in our 14 years in Waldorf education.

The method of seating 'like with like' described to the left may work with certain pairs and in small classes, but I found that in the very big classes in German Waldorf schools, and with today's discipline problems, it was not a highly-recommendable rule for seating children. Today, the quieter phlegmatics and melancholics tend to get overlooked and the louder cholerics and sanguinics are even louder in a group. I don't think many teachers follow these rules anymore, but it is interesting as an item for thought.

Temperament examples

Kids with different temperaments will react differently to events. Here are some examples:

The child falls in the playground: A choleric will blame others and takes pride in any injuries. A sanguine cries for a moment and then forgets it. A phlegmatic is stoical; s/he continues as if nothing happened. A melancholic is plunged into misery, as if the world is ending.

A class outing is canceled: A choleric calls a protest meeting. A sanguine enjoys the change and thinks of alternative activities. A phlegmatic doesn’t care, but s/he will also not forget. A melancholic knew this would happen, and s/he thinks it was done on purpose.

The class has a new teacher: The choleric sees the new teacher as a possible rival. The sanguine enjoys the situation. The phlegmatic doesn’t notice the change for several weeks — calls the new teacher by the old teacher’s name. The melancholic suffers deeply, considering the new teacher an enemy.

A task is assigned: The choleric charges in and completes it fast. The sanguine likes it and finds it interesting, but gives up if problems arise. The phlegmatic delays, ponders, plans, and has trouble completing the assignment. The melancholic sees the assignment as another great burden to bear. [View source]

Wilkinson, Roy, The Temperaments in Education, Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1994, pp.24-25. Odd as the internet is, this is taken from Waldorf Watch, which is a polemical site very critical of Waldorf education and stemming from the author's unpleasant school experience with what sounds like a sadistic teacher. Much of the 'kookiness' he writes about I have never come across in our 14 years in Waldorf education.


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A few things to be aware of with the temperaments

"You cannot tell what temperament your child is before the change of teeth. You may see glimmers here and there, but things do change over the years. So, if you have small children under the age of 7, please save this information for the future. I would even argue you can see the temperament of your child best as they approach the nine-year change. According to Steiner, each period of the lifespan has a temperament associated with it: childhood is sanguine; adolescence is choleric; adulthood is melancholic and old age is phlegmatic. As an adult, the goal is for all your temperaments to be in harmony with none of the temperaments. So if you see one thing predominating in yourself, then you may have to work to cultivate the other temperaments and bring yourself into more harmony."

Parenting need to adapt to baby, not vice versa

"Since parents can't change or determine the child's temperamental style, parenting needs to be molded around the child's temperament. Parents who try to make the child fit their concept of the 'perfect child' usually end up feeling very frustrated. A better approach is to observe and learn about the infant's behavioral style and then change the way the parent reacts to the situation. … Do not punish the child for temperamental style. If a child is shy, she should not be reprimanded for being hesitant toward a stranger. If the child adapts gradually, she shouldn't be punished for not obeying completely if her response is better than last time (moving in the right direction). If the child is intense she shouldn't be criticized for being loud when she feels upset, just as she isn't punished for being loud when she is happy. If a child is irregular, she shouldn't be punished for not being hungry at every meal or not ready to sleep at every bed time." see behavioral approach to 9-factor temperaments

A high-level academic discussion on current neuroscientific research explaining links between environment and genetics - how parenting behavior affects a baby's health and personality and how the baby's temperament influences this process. Not for the easily bored, but great for those interested in understanding this connection.



Interested in more? Here are other articles:
sports sanguinic
research psychology
phlegmatic melancholic

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