Advertisement

What is a high-reactive temperament?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Without a doubt, children are born with a certain temperament. In fact, about 20 percent of kids are born with what’s called a “high-reactive” temperament. That means they’re likely to be startled by unfamiliar things, or they’re very shy, or they tend to get scared of things like clowns or the dark. (As the children get older, this trait can develop into full-blown anxiety or depression.) These kids are certainly wired a bit differently. Their amygdalas -- the almond-shaped region in the brain that deals with emotion -- are overly active, even hyperactive. So these children react emotionally to all kinds of triggers.

This is not always a bad thing: Hypervigilance can also lead to being conscientious, punctual, and exerting great self-control. The environment in which a high-reactive child is raised can tip the balance one way or the other; for example, giving encouragement and support can make a shy child feel more comfortable and help bring him out of his shell, whereas dismissing his fears or pushing him beyond his comfort zone can make him want to retreat back into it.
YOU: Raising Your Child: The Owner's Manual from First Breath to First Grade

More About this Book

YOU: Raising Your Child: The Owner's Manual from First Breath to First Grade

There’s little doubt that parenting can be one of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences you’ll ever have. But it can be plenty tough, too: Around the clock, you’re working to keep your...

Continue Learning about Mental Health Basics

How to Handle Adult Bullying
How to Handle Adult Bullying
You may think that bullying is perpetrated by nasty kids or mean teenagers. But in 2013, it happened among teammates in the NFL. Miami Dolphin second-...
Read More
How common are mental disorders?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Mental disorders are common in the United States and internationally. An estimated 26.2 percent of A...
More Answers
What is psychosis in veterans?
Challenge AmericaChallenge America
Psychosis in veterans and the general population is a mental illness characterized by the inability ...
More Answers
Do Young Adults Understand Risk?
Do Young Adults Understand Risk?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.