Monday, July 13, 2009


I've been bouncing this post around in my head for a while as it has become more and more obvious that Colin is falling on the "slow-to-warm-up" side of the temperament scale for kids. For those of you without a psychology background, infants generally fall into one of three temperament categories: easy, difficult and slow to warm up. Since Colin was born I've been saying he is an easy baby (aside from the sleeping thing), he is almost always in a good mood (periods of teething excluded), he plays well by himself and also is happy to leave the house and run errands with me. However, there have been certain signs of 'sensitivity' that I've overlooked.
Colin is not the child who can be happily passed around the room in a crowd. Now that he is walking he is much more likely to explore but likes to have Mom or Dad close by. He doesn't like strangers and has always gotten upset when a stranger gets too close (especially if he is in strapped into the stroller.) He is starting to recognize extended family but still takes a few minutes to warm up upon reintroduction.
He is also sensitive to temperature, I remember when he was only a week old my mom and I took him for a walk to CVS. It was a hot July day and CVS was well air conditioned, the transition from hot to cold (probably dropped 15 degrees easily)really upset him but once we were back outside he was completely content again.
Loud noises also freak him out. If he is anywhere near the bathroom when the toilet flushes (and remember, we have industrial strength toilets so they are LOUD) he scrambles to either Sean or me to be picked up and puts his head down on our shoulder until the noise is gone.
Sean and I took Colin to the pool this weekend, and this was an eye opener. I was thinking that the temperature of the pool was really the problem at swimming lessons but I think it is the entire experience. Even when Sean was standing and holding Colin in only 8INCHES of water, Colin still clung desperately to his neck. In fact, even when Colin was walking around in the sprinkler section, if he walked into a puddle he got upset.
So there is no denying that he is on the 'slow-to warm up' side of easy but I think it could be a lot worse. He does have some traits that don't match with this temperament. For example, he LOVES to be the center of attention and have everyone clap for him. This child can really work an audience! However, recognizing and acknowledging his temperament allows me to modify my own behavior and try to 'tone it down' a bit. Maybe I shouldn't be the first one in the pool this week! He might benefit from greeting new activities a little slower.

I should mention, that I too was a slow-to-warm up baby and I think it is a testament to my parents that no one I know would still classify me as 'shy'. I'm pretty sure Sean was an easy baby from what I have heard about him. Maybe baby #2 can be more like his father!!

How about you? What are your children's temperaments? Anyone have any advice for handling a slow to warm up baby?


Nicole said...

That was my favorite part of my psychology classes! Glad to see someone else learned it too!

mommymac4 said...

You could try talking him through what is happening. Start by telling him before hand (he won't understand now, but he will) what to expect. It's easier for them to adjust if they know what's coming. Also reassure him while he's still warming up that you are there. ex- while in the pool Sean could say "I'm right here, I won't put you down." You could also vocalize for him what you're guessing the problem to be- "oh, this water is cold, it will feel warmer in a bit."

Elaine said...

I agree with the previous comment as well as knowing your child's temperment but not allowing him to feel pressured to stay within that temperment. For example, there are kids that may have a tendency to be shy but when parents tell people "oh my son is shy" I think then when the child feels comfortable people make a huge deal out of it. A personal example is that I do not drink often but when I do people make such a big deal of it that I tend not to drink because I do not want the fuss/attention.

I don't know if I made sense. I know you and Sean will not make Colin feel he must stay within his current temperment, moreso it may be family that sees him on a short term/not often basis.


AbbeM said...

I'm glad you're realizing what Colin's temperament is, and working with him on that. There's so many parents who don't (i.e. the ones we see at the beach every year, who keep trying to convince their toddler s/he will "love" going in the ocean, when obviously the child is terrified!).

I agree with trying to model your behavior first, or just go a little slower with him, or talk him through it. You'll figure out together what he's comfortable with, and he'll certainly let you know. :)

That being said, when I met him last year I thought he was wonderfully sweet, and I can't wait to see him again!

Erin said...

I don't think that either of my boys fall fully into one category. I think Ben is mainly easy, but has some difficult/feisty (based on his high energy, need to be on-the-go at all times). Sam is mainly easy, too -- unless I am upset, which upsets him (for example, we were driving the other day and this woman ran a stop sign and almost hit us -- and I said, not even yelled!, "Um, you have a stop sign ..." but it must have been the tone of my voice because Sam just started sobbing, so heartbroken ... He can be a very emotional young man!

Both of the boys love new people, new situations, new environments, new foods, etc -- which is why I would classify them as mainly easy ...


Erin said...
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Anonymous said...

baby #2 ? Do you know something that we don't?

Becky said...

1) There are no immediate plans for making baby #2, I would like them spaced 2.5yrs apart so we have some time yet.
2) I agree with you Elaine, I don't want Colin being labeled as shy. He does have confidence in some situations so it could be worse.
3) Sam is definately an easy baby, and I think you are correct about Ben being mostly easy with difficult moments, particularly when he was younger (not that I ever saw it, but from what you have said.)