Mental Health

Temperament Case Study for Use in Training

Use this case study in trainings with mental health consultants, education supervisors, and other early childhood staff. Learn to observe and recognize children's temperance temperament traits and determine if the child-caregiver relationship is a good fit. Use the strategies in the IT3 to explore ways to match caregiving styles to best fit the child’s temperament.

Child: Micah, 22 months old
Adult: Ms. Mitchell, Micah's child care provider for the last six months

Child's likes and dislikes collected through observation and interview:

  • Loves vehicles
  • Likes to use his bear as a comfort item
  • Likes to stay close by to caregiver
  • Has a good focus for hands on activities like puzzles
  • Affectionate toward peers and familiar adults
  • Does not respond well to touching sticky or unfamiliar substances like clay, needs time to observe first
  • Gets up and really moves to music
  • Is a light sleeper
  • Is a great eater, likes to try many new things

Sample Observation

Caregiver: Ms. Mitchell
Child: Micah
Person Observing: Consultant

It is 2:50 p.m. and Micah is sitting on Ms. Mitchell’s lap in the comfy corner watching another caregiver say hello to a little girl and goodbye to her parent. Micah has his hand resting on Ms. Mitchell's leg. Ms. Mitchell is singing a hello song to each child as they arrive and is bouncing her legs to the beat. Micah sees the parent give the child a teddy bear and a hug. Micah gets up from Ms. Mitchell’s lap and moves towards his cubby. He finds and reaches inside his diaper bag and pulls out his own teddy bear from home.

Micah walks over to Ms. Mitchell and sits down on the floor next to her with his bear. He holds the bear up and smiles at Ms. Mitchell and says, "Bear." Ms. Mitchell smiles back and says, "Yes, Micah, that is your bear." Ms. Mitchell gets up and walks quickly over to the snack area and says, "I will be right back and she resumes her singing." Micah looks up at her and smiles. He puts the bear down and begins to play with some blocks that another caregiver puts down in front of him. Another child sits down next to Micah and starts to place one block on top of another. Micah looks over and smiles. He says, "Block." Micah scoots closer to his peer and puts his hand on her arm and says, "Sara." Sara scoots away and says, "Mine." Micah leans over and hugs Sara. Sara says, "No, hug." Micah frowns and looks up toward Ms. Mitchell.

Information from IT3

Ms. Mitchell's Temperament Traits:

  1. High activity
  2. High distractibility
  3. High intensity
  4. High regularity
  5. Low sensitivity
  6. High approachability
  7. Low adaptability
  8. High persistence
  9. Positive mood

Micah's Temperament Traits:

  1. Low activity*
  2. Low distractibility*
  3. Low intensity*
  4. High regularity
  5. High sensitivity*
  6. High approachability
  7. High adaptability*
  8. High persistence
  9. Positive mood

*Indicate traits that Ms. Mitchell and Micah differ on.

Sample Suggestions for a Goodness of Fit When the Temperament Traits of a Caregiver or Parent Differ from a Child’s