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Raising Fit Kids: Healthy Nurtition, Exercise, and Weight

  This content is selected and controlled by WebMD's editorial staff in collaboration with Sanford Health Systems.

Temperament Trait: Adaptability

This refers to how easily your child adjusts to changes. Does he adapt easily or resist them?

  • Adapts easily: When it comes to boosting nutrition or trying out new activities, adaptable kids usually go with the flow.
  • Resists change: This type of child is a natural planner. She likes to know what's coming next. Unite food and personality by taking her food shopping or encouraging her to cook new foods with you. The same strategy applies to new physical activities. The more your child knows about a new activity in advance and the more time she has to get used to the idea, the more comfortable she'll be with it.

Temperament Trait: Mood

This has to do with your child's general outlook. Does she tend to be smiling and cheerful, generally positive? Or is she more serious, thoughtful, or even negative?

  • Outgoing, cheerful: A more outgoing child will probably be receptive to new foods or activities and may easily find things she likes about each.
  • Introverted, contemplative: "These kids just tend to be more serious and thoughtful," Rose-Kayser says. "They're also usually very analytical." It may take positive reinforcement from you -- and some discussion -- to get a child with this temperament trait to eat better. Rose-Kayser suggests asking questions such as: "What was one thing you liked about that meal?" Or if the child didn't like a food, "How would you change it so you do like it?" She will really analyze and search for an answer. This type of child may not believe she can do a new physical activity or may not want to do it. Again, positive reinforcement and questions can help guide her.

Temperament Trait: Distractibility

This refers to how easily your child is drawn away from something he's involved in.

  • Less distractible: You may find it easy to introduce a new food or activity, since kids with this temperament are likely to focus intently on new things. For a less distractible child, you may find they want to narrow their attention in on a single activity, like jumping rope.
  • More distractible: To help easily distracted kids eat better, remove distractions, Welsch tells WebMD. Turn off the TV and radio, have everyone in the family eat at the same time, and don't overwhelm this type of child with too many choices. When it comes to being active, he may enjoy moving from one physical activity to another -- for example, from kickball to running, and then biking.

Temperament Trait: Sensitivity

This trait relates to how much your child responds to sensory stimulation like bright lights, loud sounds, and food textures. Does she tend to ignore them, or do they bother her?

  • Less sensitive: Kids with this temperament probably won't be troubled by new foods, but they can be inclined to charge full steam ahead with activities, playing hard until they're worn out, for example. You may want to give your less-sensitive child a gentle reminder to take a break from activity now and then.
  • More sensitive: This child may reject a new food if the texture is strange or it feels funny in her mouth. To get her to eat better, give her choices. For example, offer three new foods instead of one. If she doesn't like any of them, next time try three others. Some sensitive kids are bothered by little things like seams in their socks or tags in their shirts. They may not like to wear a special uniform or equipment for a sport. Again, if this sounds like your child, try to give her choices.


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