Children’s Temperament Traits
“Human action can be modified to some extent,
but human nature cannot be changed.” – Abraham Lincoln
I developed Children’s Temperament Traits (CTT) in the mid-1980’s. By then I was completing my doctoral dissertation. I was also running the first of three different treatment facilities for children and I was training my staff in temperaments and techniques. I’ve also used this material to train thousands of professionals and parents in workshops throughout California. Most of the professionals were licensed therapists, interns, school teachers and aides, and child-care counselors.
Though I knew he wouldn’t remember me – I had one class from him while I was a student at Cal State Fullerton – on the outside chance I might hear back, I mailed CTT to David Keirsey for his critique, sometime in the late 1980’s. He was long retired by then, and I hadn’t seen him in several years. I wasn’t sure if he would reply. Thankfully, he did, in a manner of speaking.
Dr. Keirsey sent back my entire essay, with edits hand-written in the margins, other words crossed out and replaced, and other changes. He added no other comments, other than a “good job!” on the very bottom of the last page. The edits he made were all gems, and I quickly made the changes.
I’ve made a few more since, though not too many. Now that I have time, I’m primed to do some long overdue research, writing and lecturing about children, temperament, and techniques. I also hope to find people who are adept, and so inclined, to take on this endeavor. It’s never been done, as far as I know.
I experimented 30 years ago with a children’s “sorter” of my own. I didn’t like it, and I don’t like children temperament sorters in general. I’ve reviewed a few on different websites. The ones I found seemed to “miniaturize” adult sorters. It’s really not that simple. Children aren’t merely smaller versions of their adult counterparts. In Keirseyan temperament theory, children arrive whole, already equipped. Our job then, as child managers, is to understand who they are and to help them unfold.
More important, a sorter for children relies on adults to give answers to the written questions, so it’s fraught with the bias – and temperament – of the adult. Too much “mind-reading” occurs and, when discovering a person’s temperament, “mind-reading” is not allowed. Observation – watching what children do – is, as far as I’m concerned, the most accurate way to understand what makes a child move.
Child Management Techniques
The specific techniques we choose as parents, teachers, coaches, and counselors to manage troubled or troublesome children is temperament dependent. To follow is a list of techniques that I’ve collected, used, and trained on over the years.
The majority of the techniques (except for Amnesty) found in Reactive and Proactive sections are gleaned from Keirsey’s little known yet very useful work, Corrective Intervention: A Manual for Casualty Reduction Specialists in Pupil Personnel Services, copyright, 1972. Though I’ll write more about this later, this small, obscure handbook may have had the most impact on my career – and the children in my care.
After I post the four portraits – the next blog will be about the STARS – I’ll provide a description of each technique, as well as how they are best used with STARS, SQUARES, SPHERES and CUBES. For now, the list of techniques include:
1. Therapy Techniques
• Reflection (Client Centered Therapy): Carl Rogers, Inventor
• Psychodrama: Jacob Moreno, Inventor
• Rational-Emotive Therapy: Albert Ellis, Inventor
• Gestalt Therapy (NOT to be confused with Gestalt theory): Fritz Perls, Inventor
• Behavior Modification: A generic term, behaviorism began with the writings of John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner
• Reality Therapy: William Glasser, Inventor
• Insight Therapy (Psychoanalysis): Also a generic term and used by many, the inventor of this technique is Sigmund Freud.
2. Reactive Techniques
• Restriction • Abuse • Restitution • Deprivation • Amnesty
3. Proactive Techniques
• The Easy Task • Blackmail • Bribery • Defusing • Distraction
• Frontloading • Moratorium • Rehearsal • Sidetracking • Signaling
4. Group Techniques
• Adolescent Interactive Group (AIG) • The Truth Chair • Challenge
• GIDE (Group Interaction and Drug Education)
• GIVE (Group Interaction and Violence Education)
5. Other Techniques
• The Baldy Maneuver• Logical Consequences
• Active Response Training (ART 21) –
~ Regardless & Nevertheless ~ The Sponge
~ The “You Win” Proposition ~ The Takeover Maneuver
(ART 21 is pre-esclation training for school, residential care, and other mental health facility personnel. Considered “basic training” in my facilities, ART began in California as Alternatives to Restraint Training in 1989.)
Each of the four portraits will include a description of the four shapes. In addition, each portrait will conclude with a section on:
(1) Dislikes/Complains About
(2) Worrisome Behaviors
(4) Praise for/Responds to
(5) Intervention Techniques, for each of the four shapes.
I’ll start with the STARS, the most troublesome of the four shapes.
Next Blog: CTT Portrait: STARS – “Do your own thing!”