IT HAS often been said that a seed (or fruit) does not fall far from the tree. This saying, when applied to parenting would mean that children may most likely take after the traits and temperaments of their parents and those around them. Of course I’m aware of the many factors that may contribute to a child’s character later in life, but for now let’s concern ourselves with temperaments that children pick from their parents.

Temperaments are an individual’s nature or characteristics as expressed by the way they behave or react to situations or people. There are four main types of temperaments – sanguine, melancholy, choleric and phlegmatic. To be honest, there’s no one person who could be described as pure sanguine or perfect melancholy, but we all have more traits of one temperament and less of the other. Others may combine two or more temperaments, giving them a rare quality that distinguishes them from all others.

Let’s briefly look at these temperaments and see what we can learn from them. A person with a sanguine temperament, for example, has the inborn energy to inspire and charm others. They’re sociable, overreaching and make friends easily. They are extroverts and these qualities are their strengths. An individual with a sanguine personality may easily fall for the drama/acting and hospitality industry as they are very good at entertaining people. Other professions that suit them are teaching, sports and/or salesmanship. Their weakness is in their outgoing nature which makes them showy, repetitive and want credit for everything. Their high spirits and extrovert life gives no room for others to perform, a situation that could lead others to feel left out. Second Republican President Fredrick Chiluba was a good example of a sanguine.

Next on the list are persons with choleric temperaments, who are goal-getters and have a tendency to have their own ways on many matters. They are quick at arriving at decisions and may consider others in the team as ‘slow and weaklings.’ They can be ambitious, brave and risk-takers when it suits them – in order to get the job done. Late Michael Chilufya Sata suits the description of a choleric. Professions like law enforcement, military, engineering, sports administrators and others are good for them. They also make good politicians as they are good at demanding loyalty.
Their weakness is that they are bad tempered and may be over-confident sometimes. In leading others they put too much pressure on their subordinates, something that may lead to poor morale in the work environment.

Then we have melancholy temperaments. A melancholy may be considered to be the opposite of a sanguine as they are often introverts and less interested in people around them. They have few friends and are often suspicious of newcomers. They show little interest in life and people around them, to the extent that others may consider them lazy and uninviting. However, their strength lies in the fact that they are deep thinkers, analysts and perfectionists at best. When a sanguine is entertaining people and the choleric is pushing for results, a melancholy may be analyzing, strategizing and looking for solutions. One example of a melancholy was late President Levy Mwanawasa. Because of his melancholy temperaments that look for perfection, he was able to arrest Chiluba, a person who picked him to become president. I suppose you know the rest of the story.

Professions that suit melancholies are legal, medical, science, academia, finance and other skills that need detailed analysis and thoroughgoing attention and commitment.

Weakness in melancholy is that they are moody and tend to be depressed easily. Their need for perfection makes them procrastinate. Since they are thoughtful and talk less, their partner may mistake that for lack of romance and sensitivity.

The last, though not the least among temperaments is phlegmatic. These are easy-going, quiet and relaxed. They tend to sit back and watch others work, though this should not mean that they are lazy. They want to work alone in solitude and observe what needs to be done better. They may not personally get involved to solve problems, but if approached, they are good at finding solutions. Their strength is that they have no emotional outbursts and can live under hostile environment without trying to change the status quo. In other ways, you can’t force them to bargain. Procrastination is their weakness and their tendency of not ‘being part of the group’ means that society miss their input.

Professions that require phlegmatics are nursing, psychology, office work, help-hands, human and social services and other disciplines that allows for a lot of team work

So as parents we can see that there’s no one temperament that is good or bad and each one of them has its own advantages. Some of these traits can be inherited from parents while others can be picked along the way as children grow up. However as parents and guardians we need to do our best to mentor children to live their best lives as we guide them into adulthood

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