What's Your Temperament?

Understanding you and your child's temperaments can help with parenting. For example, melancholic children respond well to fairy tales describing hardships. The phlegmatic child likes comfort, to be kept warm and delicious food. Sanguine children respond well to calm parenting but enjoy social situations. Choleric children like to be leaders and you may find letting them be in charge of tasks helps to give them direction. In Waldorf schools teachers work with temperaments to help children grow and develop.

Children of these temperaments are often drawn to these colors:

According to Rudolf Steiner- the founder of Waldorf education - each phase of life has a temperament associated with it. 

  • Childhood: Sanguine 
  • Adolescence: Choleric 
  • Adulthood: Melancholic 
  • Old Age: Phlegmatic 

A goal of adulthood is to bring all four temperaments into balance, to bring harmony into one's life.

Here's a list of animals associated with each temperament.

  • Lion (Choleric/Dominance) Strengths— Visionary, practical, productive, strong-willed, independent, decisive, leader.
  • Otter (Sanguine/Influence) Strengths— Outgoing, responsive, warm, friendly, talkative, enthusiastic, compassionate.
  • Golden Retriever (Phlegmatic/Steadiness).
  • Beaver (Melancholy/Compliance)

You can look at the characters in Winnie the Pooh to find the four temperaments - Eeyore is the melancholic; Rabbit choleric; Pooh phlegmatic; and Christopher Robin himself is the sanguine.

Take a quiz to determine your temperament. (A very fun activity to do with children - our family had so much fun discovering our temperaments!)

Let me know what temperament you and your children are in a comment below.

For further reading on this subject I recommend looking at Dr. Gilbert Child's work entitled Understand Your Temperament! A guide to the four temperaments: Choleric, Sanguine, Phlegmatic and Melancholic.

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It always interests me to see the temperaments written about, as there often seems to be an unconscious bias or infinity towards some temperaments rather than others… In this case it is interesting that when listing animals associated with the temperaments, Choleric and Sanguine get strengths listed, but not so the Phlegmatic or Melancholic … I would love to see strengths listed for all, as I feel each temperament has strengths and weaknesses equally worthy of consideration. Phlegmatic strengths to consider might include loyalty, optimism, patience and diplomacy… Melancholic strengths to consider might include compassion, emotional intelligence, deep thought, eye for detail…


My daughter is the Otter and I’m the Golden retriever


Sanguine and choleric. Though my 4 yr old shows attributes in more than one. Will have to get more insight from his teachers at our waldorf school!


Melancholic and melancholic. Runs in the family :) I guess that’s why I see a flicker in his eye and I know exactly how he’s feeling!!


Sanguine/melancholic here with a cozy phlegmatic husband and daughter. My son is an amazing energetic choleric. Happy Valentine’s Day y’all!


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