Characteristics may affect the parent-child relationship include the child’s physical appearance, sex, and temperament. At birth, the infant’s physical appearance may not meet the parent’s expectation. As a result, the parent may subconsciously reject the child. If the parents desired a baby of a particular sex, they may be disappointed. If the parent are not given the opportunity to talk about this disappointment, they may reject the infant.
Temperament and Parental Expectations
Temperament can be describe as the way individuals behave or their behavioral style. Chess and Thomas (1996) developed three temperament categories based on nine characteristics of temperament they identified in children.
- Easy: these children are even tempered, predictable, and regular in their habits. They react positively to new stimuli.
- Difficult: these children are highly active, irritable, moody, and irregular in their habits. They adapt slowly to new stimuli and often express intense negative emotions.
- Slow to warm up: these children are inactive, moody, and moderately irregular in their habits. They adapt slowly to new stimuli and express mildly intense negative emotions.
Characteristics of temperament in children:
- Level of activity: the intensity and frequency of motion during playing, eating, bathing, dressing, or sleeping.
- Rhythmicity: regularity of biologic function (sleep patterns, eating patterns, elimination patterns).
- Approach/withdrawal: the initial response of a child to a new stimulus, such as an unfamiliar person, unfamiliar food, or new toys).
- Adaptability: ease or difficulty in adjustment to a new stimulus.
- Intensity of response: the amount of energy with which the child responds to a new stimulus.
- Threshold of responsiveness: the amount or intensity of stimulation necessary to evoke a response.
- Mood: frequency of cheerfulness, pleasantness, and friendly behavior versus unhappiness, unpleasantness, and unfriendly behavior.
- Distractibility: how easily the child’s attention can be diverted from an activity by external stimuli.
- Attention span/persistence: how long the child pursues an activity and continues despite frustration and obstacles.