11. Successful Temperament-Personality - RonaldMah

Ronald Mah, M.A., Ph.D.
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist,
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11. Successful Temperament-Personality

Therapist Resources > Therapy Books > Born That Way- Termperament Rel

Born that Way, Temperamental Challenges in Relationships and Therapy
by Ronald Mah

Many studies show correlation to children's temperament and their social interactions with peers.  Preschoolers with lower sensitivity and higher activity level and higher approach were more responsive to their peers than high sensitivity and low activity and approach children.  Higher emotionality correlates with unsuccessful friendships.  When provoked by peers, preschoolers' angry responses and lack of regulatory control are negatively related to peer acceptance and social competence, especially for boys as seen by teachers.  "Taken together, these findings suggest that individual temperamental dispositions may be important in the development of social behavior relevant to peer and friendship relationships" (Szewczyk-Sokolowski and Bost, 2005, page 382).  A difficult temperament affects being accepted by peers, while children with less difficult temperaments are more accepted.  Both boys and girls with greater attachment security tended to be more accepted and less rejected than more insecure children.  Both attachment security and temperament affected children's peer acceptance.  "These findings replicate those of numerous studies linking attachment security to elements of social functioning among peers (e.g., Bost et al., 1998; Rose-Krasnor et al., 1996; Suess et al., 1992), and illustrate the continued utility of the secure-base concept beyond the infancy period" (Szewczyk-Sokolowski and Bost, 2005, page 390).  It is probable that parents whose interactions with children promote secure attachment also socialize their children for positive peer interactions.  Research has shown that well-liked children tend to be friendly, are able to enter and organize group activities, and are able to recognize and regulate emotion and affective expression.

Research about adult intimate relationships essentially replicate findings about temperament and child peer relationships.  Happier couples tend to have individuals with more pleasant and more dominant temperaments.  Better adjusted persons have pleasant temperament, with them also being more satisfied.  Being unpleasant and being submissive (related to being depressed) women were very dissatisfied in marriage.  Individual traits rather than matching traits were thus more predictive of happiness in the relationship.  "Although intermate temperament similarity on Pleasantness and Dominance (but not on Arousability) correlated positively with marital satisfaction, similarity was a weaker and somewhat misleading predictor of satisfaction in comparison to findings when individual temperament scores were treated as separate variables" (Blum & Mehrabian, 1999, page 93).  The infant and young child are unlikely to be self-aware of their temperaments and how it may affect their relationships.  A young person will act out instinctively without awareness of consequences to his or her reputations or how he or she will be perceived.  As a child expresses needs and distress, initial caregivers- the parents react and influence the child's attachment security and social skills with others.  A child who is emotionally soothed and directed behaviorally can also be educated to become aware of his or her emotional needs and behavioral choices.  With greater awareness and understanding of self and others, a child is better socialized to make better and more socially adept choices.  An adult individual who continues to not understand his or her own temperaments nor partner's or children's temperament may be exhibiting the consequences of earlier poor socialization.  Inadequate current socialization causes the individual to tend to be more critical, angrier, more frustrated, less effective, and tend to feel more overwhelmed by partner demands and parenting.  Such an individual like the poorly liked and rejected child may tend to pathologize others, partners, or children and/or him or herself.  Specifically, the individual does not successfully problem-solve temperament and other important challenges to relationships.   

3056 Castro Valley Blvd., #82
Castro Valley, CA 94546
Ronald Mah, M.A., Ph.D.
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, MFT32136
office: (510) 582-5788
fax: (510) 889-6553
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