Personality Vs. Temperament: Getting to Know Your 3-year-old!

Personality Vs. Temperament: Getting to Know Your 3-year-old!

As children enter their preschool years, their personality and temperament starts to take shape and change. Read on to learn more.

As your child grows into the type of person they will one day be, every little quirk seems fascinating. What excites them? How do they relate to others? How do they respond to frustrations in life? A 3-year-old can be a very small, very confusing little person sometimes. Which is why a 3-year-old development checklist is essential for parents of threenagers. 

Getting to know your child and helping them be the best person they can be is one of the truly rewarding privileges of a parent.

Understanding your child’s temperament helps you better support their growth and development. And it also moulds your parenting style and deepens your relationship.

3-year-old development checklist: Understanding the facets of your 3-year-old’s temperament

A child’s temperament is basically what “makes them tick.”

Though different from personality, the two are quite similar. Personality arises from temperament, which can be traced to a child’s innate self.

As your little one approaches the end of her toddler years, her personality starts to take shape.

You might see something of yourself or your spouse reflected in your 3-year-old’s behaviour. But you may also be surprised at the unique traits your budding preschooler exhibits.

previous study found links between children’s behavioural styles at age three to their personality by the time they reach age 26.

So closely observing your 3-year-old can offer a glimpse of what she will be like as an adult.

The 9 facets of your 3-year-old’s temperament

3 year old development checklist

3 year old development checklistincludes personality development, too. Image source: File photo

Let’s take a closer look at the nine characteristics of temperament in children, according to research led by professors Stella Chess and Alexander Thomas of the New York University School of Medicine.

1. Activity level

This involves your little one’s level of energy, enthusiasm, and general motor activity.

2. Approach or withdrawal

This is a part of temperament that involves the way a child reacts to anything new or unfamiliar,

3. Rhythmicity

This part of temperament is more physical: it involves their sleep cycles, appetite, waste elimination and other bodily functions.

4. Adaptability

Basically, this is how a child responds to any change or transition in life.

5. Distractability

This is a child’s ability to concentrate, or how easily they can lose focus.

6. Responsiveness

Also referred to as sensory threshold, this is how much stimulation is needed to get a response from a child.

7. Reaction intensity

Simply put, this is how much kids express their emotions in response to different situations.

8. Mood quality

This is a child’s general disposition. Is she often bubbly, serious, or aloof?

9. Persistence

This is how well a child responds to obstacles and setbacks.

All nine of these characteristics can be present in your little one. It is only the level of intensity that varies.

3-year-old development checklist: Personality-driven parenting

Though based on biology, personality and temperament can change over time.

Your child’s ever-developing personality is influenced by a variety of factors – home, school, social environments and parenting styles and methods.

Remember: these personality types are not set in stone.

Although their personality is evolving, kids generally fall under three categories. Which personality type is your child?

The “easy” child

3 year old development checklist

Image source: File photo

This child is not fussy. Their sleeping and eating cycles are on point. They easily adapt to change and generally exhibit a good disposition. 

Parenting tip:

They value consistency. Something that messes with their home routine may frazzle them a bit.

Just be there to guide them through these times and keep encouraging their positive attitude.

The “difficult” child

3 year old development checklist

3 year old development checklist. Image source: File photo

This type of child struggles with eating, sleeping, and waste elimination patterns.

They can be resistant to change. The “difficult” child is also easily frustrated, often throwing fits and tantrums.

Parenting tip:

Do not push them into social situations. Ease them into new experiences. 

Take your cue from them when it comes to what they are prepared to experience. 

Be extra patient when they throw tantrums. This child needs more understanding.

The “slow-to-warm-up” child

3 year old development checklist

Image source: File photo

When exposed to anything new, this child will clam up. They can be resistant to change.

As for their eating, sleeping, and waste elimination habits, they are fairly regular. 

Parenting tip:

Repeated exposure to new social situations will cause them to open up eventually. 

But don’t worry. Your little one may fall into this category, but they will grow out of it one day.

What matters most is that, even though your methods might change to match their personality, your love and patience never wavers through each stage of your precious child’s development.

3 year old development checklist

Sources:, WebMD, University of Colorado Psychology department, Child Development Media

READ THIS ALSO: 8 Ways co-sleeping can shape your child’s personality

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Written by

Bianchi Mendoza

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