Chess and Thomas’ Temperament Theory

  • Intensity of Reaction

The child’s energy level of response is referred to as intensity of reaction. Some children cry loudly, trash their arms and begin temper tantrums when their diapers are wet, are hungry or are left by their parents. Infants with mild or low-intensity reaction to stress respond to these situations mildly.

  • Adaptability

The child’s ability to change his or her reaction to stimuli over time and demonstrates ease in changes occurring is known to be the child’s adaptability. When faced with new stimuli or environment some infants initially withdraw but they quickly adapt or accept the new food introduced or person on the next occasion. Other infants continue to cry and fuss even after repeated introduction to the stimuli.

  • Distractibility

Distractibility is the degree to which the stimulation from the environment alters the behavior of the child. Those who are easily distracted can easily shift their attention to a new situation. For example, an infant who is crying loudly can easily be calmed by a pacifier or if a toddler is crying over a loss of a toy he can be appeased by offering a different one. These children can be managed easily. Other children cannot be distracted. They will not be appeased or managed unless their demands are met. Parents describe these children as stubborn and are unwilling to compromise their demands.

  • Attention Span and Persistence

The child’s ability to remain interested in a project or activity is referred to as the attention span. Like other aspects of temperament, this aspect of temperament varies among infants. Some babies play a toy for an hour or more while some only spends a few minutes in each toy. Being persistent is the amount of time devoted to that project or activity. The degree of persistence also varies. Some infants try to keep on performing an activity even after they fail time after time while others stop trying after one unsuccessful attempt.

  • Threshold of Response

Threshold of response is the intensity of stimulation required to evoke a response or reaction. Children who have low threshold require little stimulation while those with high threshold need intense stimulation before they react to something.

  • Quality of Mood

Some children are always happy and laughing, they have a positive mood. Contrary to these children are those who have a negative mood and usually are unfriendly and always crying. A child’s mood quality can make a major difference in the parents’ enjoyment of a child. Children with a negative mood should be allotted more time alone with the parents.


Daisy Jane Antipuesto RN MN

Currently a Nursing Local Board Examination Reviewer. Subjects handled are Pediatric, Obstetric and Psychiatric Nursing. Previous work experiences include: Clinical instructor/lecturer, clinical coordinator (Level II), caregiver instructor/lecturer, NC2 examination reviewer and staff/clinic nurse. Areas of specialization: Emergency room, Orthopedic Ward and Delivery Room. Also an IELTS passer.

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