The Science of Parenting

Temperament: The Big A-Ha | S.3 Ep.16

November 19, 2020 Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Season 3 Episode 16
The Science of Parenting
Temperament: The Big A-Ha | S.3 Ep.16
Chapters
The Science of Parenting
Temperament: The Big A-Ha | S.3 Ep.16
Nov 19, 2020 Season 3 Episode 16
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
Transcript
Mackenzie Johnson:

Hey, everybody, welcome to The Science of Parenting Live.

Lori Korthals:

Hello!

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, we're doing our wrap on season three talking all about temperament and getting a chance to reflect on all that we've learned. So I'm very excited to dig in and share some aha's. And hear your ahas.

Lori Korthals:

I'm a little sad. I like to be excited, but I'm a little sad.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I don't want it to be done.

Lori Korthals:

I know.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, we'll be okay. We'll be okay. If you've been with us live before, you know we like to kick off by starting with some beliefs and ground rules. So just a few beliefs that we have here at The Science of Parenting. First, we have what we call a pluralistic approach to parenting, which basically just means we think there's more than one way to raise great kids. And if you've been following along, you maybe guessed that temperament is a part of why that's the case. Second, we believe that our role is to provide research based information. And parents are the experts on their families. So you get to decide how this information fits your family. And then finally, we are parenting educators and so we share that information with you. And we recognize that some parent child relationships may benefit from some additional support. And so we encourage you to find those professionals locally.

Lori Korthals:

We do. And we have a couple of ground rules, especially since this is live today. One of those is that this is a judgment free zone. We get enough of that in other places. So this is our judgment free zone. Today, there's no blaming or shaming at all. None. We're gonna take a deep breath and support and be kind to each other. And we want you to also know that when you comment, we'd like you to keep your comments focused on the reality that you have. And it's so easy sometimes to in our head think, oh, gosh, I wish so and so was here, or oh, if only so and so would hear you say this. Well, let's focus on our own reality with our own families. And then the third ground rule, one of my favorites, is that we as hosts reserve the right to pass on answering certain personal questions. And we give you that right to pass, too. But just let us know if you have questions. We'd love to hear from you today during our live episode. And then we have Mackenzie DeJong, who has a couple of tricks and tips for you about how to navigate today.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Hello, everyone, I can't believe we are here at the end of the temperament season. I know. Last night I felt like it was like a big event that we were preparing for, the end of a season of our podcast. So I'm not really sure. I won't have it by the way. Remember, as we are live, you have the opportunity to turn on your closed captioning. That can be done by what we have been calling the little gear dude, or those three dots. If you're not seeing it, that might be why. You might not just have it turned on. So be sure to do that. And like they said, leave your comments, ask your questions, be nice, follow those ground rules, but we want to hear from you, as it's kind of your last chance, at least for the year, if not for quite a while, especially on temperament to ask those questions, leave those comments, give us that feedback. So that's all I have. Thank you.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So let's roll right into it. And you know, we always like to say welcome to The Science of Parenting podcast, where we connect you with research based information that fits your family. We are going to talk about the realities of being a parent and how research can help guide our parenting decisions. I am Mackenzie Johnson, parent of two littles with their own quirks. And I'm a parenting educator.

Lori Korthals:

And I am Lori Korthals, and I am a parent of three in three different life stages. One is launched, one is in college, and one is in high school. And I'm also a parenting educator. And today we are going to be talking about everything that we've learned when it comes to temperament. But just a quick reminder, you know, if you haven't been following us during the season, don't worry, you don't have to stop right now and go back. You can stick with us throughout this episode, and then go back and I think that what we have found is we've been watching the numbers as y'all like to start with episode one during these seasons, but I would encourage you when it comes to temperament, look through the titles and feel free to pick out those episodes that really resound with you. Maybe it's the go bold because you have a spirited child or maybe it's the shy and slow to warm up child you want to listen to. Think about those as you look at our temperament season three titles? What is temperament? Well, okay, so remember temperament is that foundation from which we kind of build everything else. It's our behavior. It goes all the way back to the beginning. We started out with temperament. Way before we even grew into our personality or grew into the teenager or adult we were that temperament has always been there, even in the nursery, and we layer everything else on top of it. It's our response to what's happening around us.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, that pattern of reaction and behavior. Love that. So we know that temperament is based in lots of research, which we've shared with you throughout the season, Thomas and Chess, Jim Cameron and his colleagues at Kaiser Permanente. Right, they've been following thousands of kids' temperaments for over 30 years. And what they tell us is, there are nine temperament traits, and everybody gets them. The question is, did we get a little or get a lot. So of course, as always, we have our landing page for temperament. You can go look that up to find some great temperament resources, that science of parenting.org. But for now, we are gonna just kind of reflect on what we've heard, what we've learned, what we've heard from you. And yeah, like Mackenzie and Lori said, this is kind of our last chance for some questions and answers related to temperament to do it live anyway. You can always email us at [email protected], as well. But for now, let's just hear about what we've learned. Let's reflect on that a little bit.

Lori Korthals:

All right, so we started with the nine temperament traits. Remember? Can you get them all off the top of your head? No, it took me forever, too.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I feel like I can say the three ones that start with a off the top of my head. All right, adaptability, and approach withdrawal.

Lori Korthals:

You got it exactly. And then we have intensity, sensitivity, distractibility, persistence, rhythmicity, or regularity, and mood. So we have all those nine traits. We gave definitions. We talked about where they fall on the continuum. Again, Mackenzie said, did you get a little or did you get a lot. And so we had these nine traits. And then we also talked about how these nine traits fall into three patterns. So our patterns, we describe them as flexible, that easy going, or fearful, that shy or slow to warm up. And then last week, we heard about the feisty or spirited pattern. So we have these nine traits, three patterns. And we want to know what your ahas have been specifically about those nine traits, or those three patterns. So feel free to put that in the chat. And I'm going to ask Mackenzie to start in and tell us what were her ahas around those.

Mackenzie Johnson:

So we started, right, we spent nine episodes going through each of these traits individually. And before the season started, we're like, gosh, should we do that? Should we do it across nine episodes, and we decided it was totally worth it. And I can say, for my own learning, it absolutely was diving deep into each one was great. One thing that I learned about the traits this season, in addition to completing the profile on everybody in my family, which is fun, I'm thinking about the interaction of traits. And so which kind of I guess goes with the patterns but with thinking about temperament in an actual person instead of this trait, that trait, that trait. And so I even think of, I am high intensity, my husband is low adaptability, and understanding like, okay, my daughter has both of those. And that maybe is why this behavior happens this way. And so just seeing how those play together instead of just all separate things has been interesting. What about you, Lori?

Lori Korthals:

So having known about temperament for a while, it was really fun to bring it back to the forefront, and really think about it with my kids, because they're all different ages. And so now that they're older and bringing it back up to the forefront, one of the things I was really able to do was teach them about their temperament again. And you know, I've taught them along the way, but really drilling down and even sharing it with their friends, and sharing their friends' temperaments with them. And so that has been really, really fun for me to look at those specific traits as the children have grown, and now really talk about it with them. And you know, why they're responding this way to a specific situation. And then I think then, when we were talking to Dr. McDevitt about patterns of behavior, and he was talking about how some of those difficult things actually are difficult demands like because of the temperament trait, it's a demanding trait. And because of temperaments, that's why the child is responding this way. And it really helped me to think about and actually I did a couple of one to one conversations with parents helping them see that, you know, it just takes more to parent this child. And it's not that the child, him or herself is difficult. Those demands that they have are more difficult. And I'll share another one later. But I do think that we're ready to look at some comments.

Mackenzie Johnson:

See if anybody haven't has anything to say, what they've learned about the traits. We got anything good, Kenz.

Mackenzie DeJong:

I was just double-checking that I didn't miss any last second. Oh, the one thing I forgot to include is that we do have a delay because of that captioning. So there might be, you know, they see this 10 seconds later and have that aha moment, and so I will start with a couple of notes. And then there is more or less a question for you to answer. So someone said that they loved the feisty one last week. Speaker was wonderful. Yes, we love Mary. She is like, the end all be all when it comes to kids. She's amazing. And they also liked the one that told us to never apologize for our child's temperament. Let them be.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, I love them all.

Mackenzie DeJong:

And then someone said their aha moments were related to children and sleep, wish they had known that 23 years ago with their son. It all makes sense. Even 23 years later, it makes sense. I think about myself as a kid, a whole lot of sense as I talk about temperament. All right. And then the question is, help me with some words or ways to approach temperament with others without sounding like I know more than you, such as friends, family, when temperament is impacting interactions. This is not my question. But I have asked this question. So So what is some advice you guys would give?

Lori Korthals:

So a funny story about this is that being a family life educator is hard to describe. Would you agree? And what is it you do? And my answer is, I just teach adults how cool kids are. And so when I look at it from that perspective, I often found myself coming up with a third party. So I might say something like, I was in this group of moms of older children the other day. Yeah. And then I would share something that I totally knew about temperament myself, but it's like, I almost needed this safe third party. Because I was with familiar people that, you know, they knew me, and I didn't want to come across as, you know, this guru on all things temperament. A know-it-all, right? And I'm not, but I totally can understand this question from that aspect of, you know, I don't want them to suddenly clam up and stop talking to me about children's behavior. And so I would often find myself, and even with colleagues, I would say things like, oh, well, I heard this speaker one time, and it was always Mary, or not always, but it was always my temperament veteran gurus and researchers. And just that idea of, I just needed that safe third party to share the information and then that was my safe space. And it's not to downplay my own skills or your own skills as a parent, because you absolutely are 100% more knowledgeable about your child than anyone else.

Mackenzie DeJong:

And I will have to say that even as, you know, a person on this podcast, there have been a couple of occasions where I pull the this isn't me saying it. This is something that Lori and Mackenzie said, as they were talking through the podcast, and I just learned it, you know. So if you need scapegoat, blame Lori.

Lori Korthals:

Isn't that funny how we do that. I mean, like, why can't we just in front of our family and friends say, Hey, I know this, because I just paid all this money to go to school and learn it. Yeah. Sometimes I would say that. I'd be like, Okay, well, I need to put on the hat, this hat right now. I know we're in our friend group but I'm going to put on my work hat because my parents and I paid a lot of money for it so this is what I learned.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And I tend to do that. I feel like this almost sounds arrogant. But I tend to assume we all know temperament. Right? And so someone says like, well, this is going on. I'm like, oh, yeah. You know, he does. He has a really intense temperament, doesn't he? And acknowledging, it's really what they're saying. Right? Often times what they're describing is that temperament trait. And so I often feel like just providing the language of saying, oh, you're right, you know, he can be sensitive or she can be very perceptive of those details and saying it in a positive, right? I'm agreeing with what you're saying. Because, yeah, as a parent, you're the one noticing the behavior. You're the expert. Yeah. And so I do I just kind of offer it up. And if they would like to know more, right, if they want to ask about what I mean, or, but like, yeah, I've heard you talk about how blank temperament trait? How blank your child is.

Mackenzie DeJong:

That makes me think of that conversation with Rob Copeland and he said, if they're saying, oh, they're shy. Just say, oh, no, she's just a little reserved, needs a few minutes to warm up. Giving other people the words. Not necessarily saying, well, I know this about this, but just, you know, slipping in those words, because you are knowledgeable, but to give them the words without, you know, making it

Mackenzie Johnson:

Not belittling.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Exactly, like just slipping in new words. It's like if you teach kids, where if you start slipping those into vocabulary? We need that as adults, too. Yeah. I need new words in my vocabulary, too. Yes.

Mackenzie Johnson:

That's a great question.

Lori Korthals:

It kind of brings us to our second tidbit, but I can hold off on that if there are more things.

Mackenzie DeJong:

I have one more comment that I will slip in here. Copy and paste here. The whole series has helped me develop better talking points about temperament when working with my program families, so that's exactly. I love it. So hey, if you want to share in the chat what kind of talking points you've used, that would be awesome.

Mackenzie Johnson:

We'd love to see that.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Yes. All right, carry on.

Lori Korthals:

The second tidbit falls right in line with both of those things. And that is that we actually have research that tells us, and this research is from Jim Cameron and his colleagues, Rice, Sparkman and Nevel, and they did this study over time, on the guidance, the temperament guidance that they began to give families who were part of the Kaiser Permanente health plan. And the study was longitudinal. So it was longer over time. And what they found was that, as they gave parents education and advice and information on temperament, the impacts on the parent child relationship were positively increased. So they were positively impacting the parent child relationship, as they continued to give them education and information on temperament. Yes, which is super cool. To think about the fact that as you've listened to the podcast this season, whether it's been one, or 10, or right this very minute, the fact that you're taking in information education about temperament and thinking about your relationship with your child is going to have that chance to be positively impacted. Which is I love like, I 100% love that. That's it. So I just saw your mild intensity come out. Because Lori loves that research so much. Like I've heard her talk about it, and you expressed that very mildly and calmly, in a beautiful way. But I need everybody to know if I had said it, it would have been a little more over the top. So I do, I think it's a beautiful and I think like what good news that is for us as parents and as educators that okay, when I understand temperament, it impacts how I feel about my parenting. You know, when we kicked off, we talked about one of our beliefs is that you're the expert on your kids. And I will say learning more about my kids' temperament and my own this season. It's made me feel like more of an expert, right? I am an expert on my kids, I know what's going on with them. And you know, being tuned in to anticipate those behaviors. Like, even when maybe other people may have judged a decision my co-parent and I made together like, No, we know what we're doing. We're the experts on our kids. We know their temperament. And so I can even just like my own as a parent, like me as a parent, I can say that this season and learning more about temperament has helped me feel that way. I'm an expert, right? I'm an expert on my kids. Yes, yes, you are. We are. We all are and I think that learning this gives us that confidence to say, I do know my child and yes, this particular demand because of their temperament is making you know things difficult and feel difficult and be difficult, but I know what they need. And we need to trust the process, especially when we have those feisty and spirited children and those slow to warm up and fearful children, and even those flexible children teaching them to speak up. And so as we think about the strategies that we've learned along the way, you know, what are some things that you all have learned along the way that you've put into place? We want you to put those into the, into the chat and share with us what are strategies that you've learned along the way?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, what are your favorites? I mean, we've covered what is this episode 15 of this? Yeah, we've covered a lot. We have. So what have been your takeaways? What are those nuggets that you've been practicing? I can tell you, I feel like my list is like a bajillion. Like, I have a bajillion things. That's a real number by the way. Bajillion officially? Um, what about you, Lori, what would you I mean, you've spent more time in this. Do you feel like you've still gotten kind of new stuff and strategies?

Lori Korthals:

Absolutely. Especially because each time we've talked about it, you've talked about them as a framework. And as a, what did you call them? What's your list? Your list, your framework? No, you got your reality? Yeah, strategies. Yes. And so I think in the back of my mind, it was just always things that I just did, but having them be called a framework or a strategy really solidified that confidence in me and the fact that I'm still doing this with my children at 23, and 21, and 16. But now I can teach them that this is a real, concrete task of development that they can do, like they can do this because of the strategy. And this will help them understand their friends, the co-workers they work with, people, teachers, and maybe someday their own children. So I feel like it's given me even more confidence. And especially as we've learned about each other.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Our team and our profiles has been interesting. I would say my strategy that has really stuck with me, one I've loved, like getting the chance to talk with the experts, the expert guests that we've had, and hearing their insight and their years of research and all that, like, oh my gosh, I could just listen to those on repeat all day. I swear I would take something new from that every time. But to that I've really been practicing in our home. One was like you heard last week, Mary Sheedy Khristenko talked about the flexible thinking. And so that is like a term we now use as a family like, okay, let's be flexible thinkers. Let's think of three ways. You know, let's think of three things we could do after supper, or let's think of three ways we could try this. Let's brainstorm together. And so that like term flexible thinkers is absolutely something we're doing in our house. And then the baby steps that Rob Copeland talked about, with slow to warm up, that just like, hey, this little tiny step forward is worth celebrating. Even if next time you take two steps back. I know that you can take that step forward, and we'll keep working forward. So those are just things that I'm clinging to, and using all the time.

Lori Korthals:

I love it. All right, Kenzie, what do you have for us? Bring it back in?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. What are people doing?

Mackenzie DeJong:

Can I just say you always say bring her back in and I'm literally the one clicking the buttons.

Mackenzie Johnson:

True.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Cracks me up. You're like bring her back in and I'm like, okay.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Bring you back in.

Mackenzie DeJong:

By the way. I'm still waiting maybe for a little. Yep, there it goes. There's a little bit more catch up. They're kind of thinking about it. They're very slowly responding. But, just as a comment, someone said earlier, a friend helped me see a child as passionate instead of difficult, which is the word that I'm using. I love that. And I wanted to bring in a comment that someone you may recognize said in the comments. Who said that temperament traits are really gifts we each have and share it with others. And I included, yes, it was Barb Dunn Swanson, our writer. And always always, she always reminds us of that because I know we can get down in that idea like, Oh, I am so but she always says it's a gift.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Right? Yes. Even when the demands are difficult for us as parents sometimes, temperaments are still a gift. She said that.

Mackenzie DeJong:

I did the temperament profile for myself and I was reaffirmed why and how I interact with people. I actually look at my great granddaughter through that temperament lens.

Lori Korthals:

That leads us to the next section if you want to slide on in there.

Mackenzie DeJong:

One other, we do have one other comment. Hold that thought and I'll say that someone's praising the little steps as kiddos learn to regulate their temperament like Lori's daughter ordering her own drink, celebrating that as a big step or the countless others. So that was another. Now, carry on.

Lori Korthals:

Okay. So this has to do with a strategy. And one

Mackenzie Johnson:

Sounds good.

Lori Korthals:

Okay, so the two websites that we typically talk of the strategies that you've kind of heard Mackenzie referenc regarding her children was tha she had some homework and tha part of that homework was tha we tapped into some temperamen profiles. And Barb Dunn Swanson is going to put the link t about in terms of profiles, is preventive ounce, and that a couple of different places t at you can look at do ng temperament profiles, and tha 's a strategy. Learning about our child's specific temperament and reviewing the tempera ent profile allows you to t ink about how you're alike and how you're different. And that ind of brings up the goodnes of fit, which is a strateg as well, right? So I'm gonna ive them the website one more t me. And then you talk about good ess of fit. Deal? website is www.preventiveoz.org. Or we will also utilize the temperament.com website, which is basically www.temperament.com, or temperament.org. Either one, they go to the same place and and there's some opportunities to fill out some temperament profiles there. So tell us how doing profiles can impact your goodness of fit?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, I have had the chance to understand my own temperament, my husband's as well as our kids, and the opportunity to create environments, right. So that's this idea of goodness of fit, we talked through in each trait episode, that what we do as parents, right how our temperament aligns and the environment that we create for our kids. So that is a really important strategy of why bother to understand temperament. Because it gives us the opportunity to create goodness of fit. So I can even say, understanding, we've been spending more time at home recently and so my daughter who is less adaptable, irregular, you know, lots of different traits, we were just kind of having a hard time. And so just sitting down reflecting like, okay, what's going on? What can we do about it? And I realized, you know, our routines and everything has been totally out of whack. And I was like, you know, understanding her temperament, I understand that maybe what she needs is some consistency, right? That things have been totally like fluctuating and my high adaptability was like, oh, that's fine.

Lori Korthals:

Which is great for you. Right?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah. But it was like getting kind of stressful for her. She wanted to know what was coming. And she was actually craving some consistency. And so even just in like, the last week, we've been really working on okay, this is what you can expect next, and some consistency from day to day. And that has made a huge difference in how her and I interact. And, you know, just the way she feels and reacts throughout the day, especially with that intense temperament. I was very aware she was having a hard time because her intense temperament definitely told me. But so yeah, that goodness of fit, the opportunity to kind of change our environment, change our behaviors, in ways that help our kids grow up to be successful adults with their temperament gifts.

Lori Korthals:

Absolutely. That's excellent. It just kind of wraps everything up for temperament, just the idea of you said it, why bother? Because it helps us have a good fit with our child. And as we think about parenting, and how we want our parenting to come together with our child, we think about that fit. And the idea that we could have a more positive relationship and more positive fit with our child. Oh, that, you know, thinking about the gifts that Barb brought in, and I just yes. And now y'all know why I love and yes, I love temperament. So summarize it up for us, maybe.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yeah, I think it'd be great to kind of recap what we covered the season in really broad terms. And so as we go through these kind of themes or categories, I do want to remind you, this is kind of last call for those lingering temperament questions that you have for us to answer live. But so thinking back to where we started, right, we defined what is temperament, what it's not, and looking again, spent lots of time digging through each of those nine traits. What's that definition? Right? What do they mean when they say intensity? What do they mean when they say persistence? And so looking at that, and then you know, looking at that continuum, right, that little, middle or a lot, makes a big difference. We've covered a lot of things there. What else, Lori.

Lori Korthals:

We covered lots of strategies. There's a word, we've covered many, lots, many frameworks and strategies. We're also actually going to hang on to some of those strategies as we think about our next season. Right?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, absolutely. So we've covered the ages and stages and how as we look at temperament across different ages, and then the tasks that our kids are working on that it's been relevant. And we're gonna kind of be looking at that concept of how our kids grow in season four, which we'll be launching in 2021. So just kind of keep that nugget with you whether you've got a teen or a toddler or you know, anywhere in between or on either end, we're gonna have some good information for you. Some that's targeted to some of the ages of your kids. So we'll be kind of exploring how our kids grow and what we can do about it as parents So did we get any last minute questions in there, Kenz? Last call?

Mackenzie DeJong:

I am trying to frantically copy and paste. I will say that I will start with this one, one of my children screamed when we took a different route to his beloved grandpa's house. We understood a new route had opened but it wasn't the right way. It took many trips before he didn't cry. That sounds like, makes me think of when Mary Sheedy Kurcinka was thinking about, and I have this thought a lot, of that flexible thinking. Thinking and adaptability of changing routes.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. Different than usual.

Mackenzie DeJong:

Yeah. Yes, In general, I've really, really enjoyed temperament as well. I think we've heard this a lot that temperament has been kind of a big hit among people of learning. And I know, it's been a big hit of learning and learning so much. And I'm not seeing any other comments. So I do have one that I feel like kind of wraps things up for us here. And it's hard because it was long, but she said, I agree, Mackenzie, I really see my kids' different temperaments coming through with how they are handling changes related to the pandemic, as well as how I am handling it. Since they are different, I know I need to do different things for them right now. That's kind of the epitome of this.

Mackenzie Johnson:

That's it! Cue the applause! And scene! Our kids do, they need different things from us. And, gosh, the insight that you're using, and that you have and to create goodness of fit for each of them looking different, like, what a gift, right? What a gift you're giving them to honor their temperament. And see it as strengths, like oh, yes.

Mackenzie DeJong:

I love that. So thank you. Someone just said, thanks for helping me learn more about my kids and how they tick. Absolutely. Thanks everyone for all the feedback that you've given us, for responding and interacting with us. Be sure to reach out, ask us questions, send those emails. So with that, I will go away.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Get her off, bring her back. Do we get her?

Lori Korthals:

Send her away? So as she said, please do yes, email us your questions at [email protected] But in the meantime, thanks for joining us today on The Science of Parenting podcast. Remember to subscribe to our weekly audio podcast on Apple, Spotify or your favorite podcast app. You can watch the show on video each week on Facebook. And you can come along with us right, Mackenzie?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, come along with us as we tackle the ups and downs, the ins and outs and the research and reality all around The Science of Parenting.

Anthony Santiago:

The Science of Parenting is hosted by Lori Korthals and Mackenzie Johnson, produced by Mackenzie DeJong, with research and writing by Barbara Dunn Swanson. Send in questions and comments to [email protected] and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full nondiscrimination statement or accommodation inquiries, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext