The nine traits of temperament: Mood

Understanding your child’s mood can help you understand and support your child.

Some children naturally have a happier mood, and other children may have a more serious mood.
Some children naturally have a happier mood, and other children may have a more serious mood.


Temperament refers to personality traits that determine how someone reacts to the world. Are they quiet or rambunctious? Easygoing or apprehensive? The traits of temperament are mostly innate traits that we are born with, although they can be influenced by an individual’s family, culture or their experiences. A person’s temperament style plays a role in how they behave and how they interact with other people and within their world.

There are nine different traits of temperament. In this article, we will explore the trait of mood.


Mood refers to the overall tone of a person’s feelings, interactions and behaviors. Some people are dispositioned to have a happier overall mood, and they generally feel good about things. Others may have more of a negative mood. They may be referred to as more unpleasant, as they may not react in a strong, positive way with the world around them.

More positive mood

Children with a more naturally positive mood are likely to appear happy and bubbly most of the time. They will have an easier time moving on from periods of unhappiness. They tend to be more optimistic and will often be cheery and upbeat in their interactions.

More negative mood

Children who have a more naturally negative mood may appear to be more subdued than happy. They may have a demeanor that is more calm and may appear gloomy, sad or negative. They may not show their positive feelings externally, but still feel positive things.

Parenting and mood

It is often expected of children (and adults too) to be outwardly happy most of the time, but there is nothing wrong with children (or adults) who have a more negative mood. You can support these children by adjusting your expectations—accept that your child may not appear outwardly happy all the time. Remember that just because they don’t show it, doesn’t mean that they are not experiencing joy or happiness. Reassure your child that their feelings and moods are valid and whatever they feel is ok. Be there to support them and teach them healthy ways to express their emotions.

Letting your daily schedule and your expectations vary to meet your child’s activity level can prevent conflict and stress, and allow your child to have their needs met in a way that plays to their strengths and builds upon their natural temperament.

For more information about children and temperament check out the other articles in this series:

For more articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

To learn about the positive impact children and families experience due to MSU Extension programs, read our 2017 impact report. Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension positively impacted individuals and communities in 2017, can be downloaded from the Michigan 4-H website.

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