Is Your Toddler Easy, Shy, or Spirited?

by Twigtale


What type of personality does your toddler have? Dr. Karp, Twigtale’s Editor-in-Chief, divides toddler temperaments into three categories:

·       Easy toddlers are usually happy, social and can tolerate change. 

·       Shy toddlers are sensitive, observant, timid with new people and new experiences, and can be easily upset by disruptions to their routine.

·       Spirited toddlers feel their feelings intensely, whether they are good or bad. Add the word “more” to every trait used to describe a toddler (more active, more ridged, etc.).  You get the picture.

If you’re unsure where your child fits in on this temperament scale, Dr. Karp suggests a simple test to help you figure it out:

Step 1: Go to a mall, store or public place that isn’t crowded.

Step 2: Pretend to turn your back on your toddler for a few seconds (all the time, watching her out of the corner of your eye).

What was your child’s reaction?

If your child stayed put...she likely has an easy temperament.

If she became upset or sought your attention… she has more of a shy temperament

If she instantly made a break for it… she likely has a spirited temperament.  

Once you’ve got a bead on your child’s temperament, you can better anticipate the help she will need from you to help her thrive. For example, you may worry about separation anxiety if she has a shy temperament and will soon be starting pre-school. Prepare her by going on a tour of the school, meeting her teacher and using our “I’m Starting School” book to ease fears about her new schedule. Do you anticipate that your spirited child will have a hard time staying in bed once she is ready to move on from her crib? Discuss her new bedtime rules and routine in advance with our “Going to Sleep” book. Even if your child generally has an easy temperament, some milestones may still be challenging to navigate.

Dr. Karp is quick to point out that each temperament is wonderful in its own way. Shy toddlers often start talking early and are highly perceptive. Easy toddlers are adaptable. Spirited toddlers are active and animated. He emphasizes that with the right kind of care, all toddlers can easily mature into joyful and confident kids. 


Dr. Harvey Karp is Twigtale's Editor-in-Chief. He is a renowned pediatrician, child developmental specialist, and one of America’s most trusted parenting experts.  Website:  Follow him on Facebook and Twitter