How Does Parental Temperament Influence Parenting?

Parental temperament influences the way they relate to their children and the opportunities they offer them. Learn more.
How Does Parental Temperament Influence Parenting?
Elena Sanz Martín

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 07 March, 2023

Raising a child isn’t an exact science. No matter how many manuals, books, and expert recommendations are followed, the results may differ from one family to another and even within the same family. Parental temperament and the temperament of children are factors that influence the relationships between them and the dynamics inside and outside the home.

We can’t forget that parenting is a constant process of interaction between two human beings. Parents, in addition to being parents, are people with their own qualities, faults, opinions, and ways of proceeding.

Parental temperament, the main characteristics

Temperament is an innate tendency with which all human beings are born and which predisposes us to perceive, interpret, and respond to the world in a certain way. The main points to look for when assessing temperament are as follows.


Sensitive people feel better in calm and quiet environments. On the contrary, they feel great discomfort with loud noises, bright lights, or intense sounds. Those at the other end of the continuum enjoy stimulating spaces, different flavors, and hustle and bustle.

Children playing happily with their baby.
Perhaps you’ve never stopped to evaluate your temperament, but by becoming aware of this, you can make adjustments in your educational style that will benefit your children and the bond you have with them.

Activity level

This category differentiates between those who prefer to be in constant movement and those who opt for a more sedentary lifestyle. So, ask yourself: Do you like to stay busy and active, or do you enjoy more relaxing activities such as reading a book on the couch?

Distraction level

This is about the quality and duration of your concentration. Do you find it easy to stay focused on a task for long periods of time? Or, on the contrary, are you easily distracted by any external or internal stimulus?


The most persistent people continue what they start until they finish it, tolerate frustration well, and persist in tasks until the goal is achieved. On the other end of the spectrum are those who tend to change activities frequently.


Some people enjoy routines, regular schedules, and knowing what’s going to happen next. On the other hand, others prefer to be spontaneous and like to improvise and change plans. Which group do you belong to?


At one end of the continuum are those who feel emotions with great intensity and are expressive and vehement. At the other end of the continuum are those who are more reserved and rarely externalize their inner states. It’s difficult to intuit what they feel or think.


How do you adapt to change? Do you find it easy to move from one activity to another quickly and smoothly, or do you need a progressive transition and a period of mental preparation?


This category differentiates between those who seek novelty and those who avoid it. Some people enjoy exploring new social environments, different activities, and different places. Others prefer the familiar, are uncomfortable with novelty, and need more time to adjust to the situation.

A mother having a serious conversation with her young son.
Some parents tend to be strong-willed and more rigid or serious. On the contrary, others are more cheerful and more open with their children.


Finally, character distinguishes between those who are open, cheerful, and jovial and those who tend to be more serious. This doesn’t imply that they don’t enjoy themselves or that they’re unhappy, but simply that they have a more reserved and quiet nature.

How does parental temperament affect parenting?

Now that you’ve identified where you fall regarding the above aspects, you should know that this has an influence on your parenting. In this regard, the most relevant thing to do is to compare your temperament with that of your children to see how they complement each other.

In fact, whether you share similarities or have opposite tendencies, you can benefit from the time you spend together. In the first case, you’re likely to feel a greater affinity and find it easier to understand each other and participate in activities together. However, in the second case, you can both enrich and balance out your temperaments in your interactions with one another.

However, being aware of your parental temperament can help you make certain adjustments. For example, if you’re an intense person and your child is more reserved, it may be important to make sure you give them space to express themself. Also, you can address them in a calmer, less vehement manner. Similarly, if you’re more spontaneous, but your child is more comfortable with routine, you need to take this into account when adapting daily schedules and activities.

Find your positive parenting qualities

In short, it’s not about trying to change the temperament of parents or children, but about recognizing which of your qualities are positive for parenting and which ones you need to be cautious with. Moreover, this process will be different for each of your children, so the work is somewhat greater. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to offer them the conditions they need to develop to their full potential.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Ramos Martín, J. M., Sancho García, M., Cachero Sanz, P., Vara Arias, M., & Iturria Matamala, B. (2009). El Temperamento Infantil en el Ámbito de la Prevención Primaria: Relación con el Cociente de Desarrollo y su Modificabilidad. Clínica y salud20(1), 67-78.
  • Thomas, A., & Chess, S. (1986). The New York longitudinal study: From infancy to early adult life. The study of temperament: Changes, continuities, and challenges, 39-52.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.