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Helping to Create a Better "Fit" Between Parent and Child

Resource Type

Parent Handouts and Info - Parent


Offers strategies for improving 'goodness of fit' between parent and child, for cases in which parent temperament differs from infant's, child's or toddler's.


All Ages

Age Groups

Infancy (<1), Toddlerhood (1-3)

Web Address



Helping to Create a Better "Fit" Between Parent and Child (Adapted from Healthy Steps)

Helping to Create a Better "Fit" Between Parent and Child (Adapted from Healthy Steps)

Knowing that your baby will cry through every single diaper change despite being given toys, sung to, or talked to can be a relief to parents. This is not about your parenting but about your child's temperamental style. Try new approaches to distract your baby. Maintain your own positive mood. It may also help you to remember that there are positive and negative sides to each temperamental variable. If your child is more distractible then this will help you manage his or her behavior in the moment, making it easy for you to help your child stop crying by focusing on a toy or a song. The child who cries persistently throughout the diaper change despite your attempts to distract her presents behavior that is difficult to manage in the moment. On the other hand, this same child may be able to use his low distractibility and long attention span to focus on mastering new skills.

You have a temperamental style, too, and this may be similar to or different from your baby's style. If you are temperamentally different from your baby, you may sometimes need to tailor your expectations to create a "good fit" between you and your baby that can lead to positive growth and development. For example, you may enjoy sitting and reading and wish to share this with your child by reading together. You would like to sit and read for ten or more minutes, but if your child has a high activity level then you may need to change your expectations. Reading together for two minutes can be enjoyable for both of you, since you and your child do not struggle about how long you sit together. This makes reading a positive experience that can be repeated over and over again.

Adapted from Healthy Steps. Edited and Compiled by the Center for Promotion of Child Development Through Primary Care 2011

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