The Hesitant Child

The Hesitant ChildA hesitant child is one who shies away from approaching new people or environments. The child may seem cautious, preferring to watch for a while before engaging in new experiences. Dr Kagan at the Harvard University did some research in the 90’s and found that approximately 15% of children are born with a tendency to become upset in new and unfamiliar situations, making it genetic and not a learned response.

So how does knowing this help parents?

Firstly, knowing that this is not a learned behaviour and therefore not something that they are doing just to annoy us, can make a big difference in how we feel about it and therefore how we behave. These children need time to warm up. They need encouragement and reassurance that it’s OK to feel this way.

Let them know you understand their feelings. Ask what they are feeling within their bodies i.e. ‘Do you feel tight in your stomach?’ This allows our children to start to connect their bodies with their feelings of fear. We can then offer ways that they can calm themselves before entering new situations. For example a child entering a new playground full of children, may want to sit back and watch the others playing first, before joining in.

Hesitance is just one of nine traits that make up a person’s temperament. Click here to view more temperament traits.

To find out out more about these traits, access our FREE Spirited Kid Quiz.