Any parent will tell you that each child is unique and that you can recognize a child’s individual traits very early on: some cry a lot, others need constant attention, while some are perfectly content to play by themselves for hours. But a step-parent likely doesn’t have the advantage of having known their step-children since birth. You are required to “step in” and parent with little knowledge of how your step-children operate, or what’s known as their temperament.
Temperament is the inborn nature of a person. It’s the way God wired us. Notice I didn’t say “personality,” which is really just the mask or persona we put on for ourselves and others. Personality gets a lot of attention in our culture, which prizes the individual, but it’s not nearly as accurate a depiction of how we truly work as temperament is.
Understanding temperament means understanding a person’s needs as well as how he or she thinks, bonds, and shows love—very helpful information to have about anyone you are in relationship with, and especially with young people you are responsible for parenting whom you don’t know all that well yet.
All temperaments—and there are 5 of them—give and receive love very differently. So you may be desperately trying to bond with your new children, but missing the mark because you are trying to reach them through physical affection, when what they value is space until trust is earned.
As a step-mother myself, I know that a step-mom’s number one desire is to show her children love. So here is a quick rundown of the different temperaments to help you do less of the things that will prevent a bond and more of the things that will increase it.
The Five Temperaments
Melancholy children are quiet, reserved, almost solitary in nature. They typically don’t have many friends. Please know that this temperament struggles with low self-esteem and can be extremely negative, especially of themselves. To better help Melancholy youth, continuous encouragement is necessary as their self-image may get in the way of sharing. Please be patient with this temperament as they rarely say how they feel. TRUST is everything to them, while hugs aren’t all that important. Do not challenge Melancholy youths by telling them they are wrong. Instead, give them information to get them on the right path.
Children with a Choleric temperament typically display a tremendous need to control their relationships and circumstances. They are outgoing and friendly but can be prone to angry outbursts. Choleric youth need help understanding how to treat others with love and kindness.
The Sanguine temperament is very social and full of energy—almost a seemingly endless supply. They are extremely affectionate and you cannot give too much attention to them. In fact, chances are no matter how much you give, they will always want more. Sanguine youth will see the bright side of things but will struggle with a lack of self-control that needs to be taught.
Supine youth are similar to Sanguine in that they want a tremendous amount of love and affection. The difference is, with Supine, you would never know it. As a result, these youth often feel rejected. They have a hard time initiating relationships, including friends at school. Instead of pushing this youth to be more social, create an environment that lessens the chance of rejection. The Supine is a tender-hearted individual who will follow your rules very well.
Lastly, Phlegmatic youth are the most laid back of all the temperaments. They can be extremely slow paced and appear stubborn. They like to sleep a lot. Don’t take this temperament personally as they are hard to motivate. Do not expect too much in the way of a response from the Phlegmatic youth.
If You Want to Gain More Information and Insight
Granted, it is much more informative if you and your step-child take a temperament analysis to give you incredibly accurate insights into each of you as individuals as well as how you relate to each other. But even with these basic snapshots, I hope you will learn some surprising insights into your step-children that you can put into action today.
For a greater understanding of how God made you and the members of your download a FREE copy of “What’s My Temperament” and begin to understand Why you and your step children act the way you do.