The Goodness of Fit
When we talk about “goodness of fit” we are essentially talking about temperaments and how it fits with a person’s surroundings. In psychology, temperament refers to differences in behavior. There are 4 types: sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, and melancholic. A person can have a combination of any of the temperaments, and this affects their behavior.
There are two types of goodness of fit: (1) how a trait interacts with the environment and (2) how it interacts with the people in that environment. In the sections below, I will discuss each one.
A Good Fit with the Environment
We can say that there is a goodness of fit between a child and their environment when the child’s temperament matches with the demands and expectations of the environment. For example, a child who likes routines and schedules may benefit from going to traditional, mainstream schools.
A hyperactive child that is required to sit through online classes for an entire morning may not be a good fit. Kinesthetic learners may find themselves struggling through online classes because they need to be able to move around and benefit most from hands-on learning as opposed to lectures.
A Good Fit with People
The goodness of fit between a child and other people refers to how well a child’s temperament fits with people within his or her environment. It also depends on how likable the child considers these people to be. Keep in mind that adults have different temperaments too, so it is possible for an adult to not match with the temperament of a child.
A parent who is introverted and values privacy might become frustrated with a child who is outgoing and social. Meanwhile, that same parent may show a preference towards a child who enjoys reading and staying in during weekends.
The Benefits of Knowing about Goodness of Fit
Having different temperaments is not a bad thing in itself. However, it is important to know about your and your child’s temperament and the concept of goodness of fit.
As a parent, you can manage your expectations for your child. If you are aware that your child is more introverted and may need more individualized instruction, then choose a school that has a smaller class size with a smaller teacher-student ratio. You can more or less predict that sending that child to a big school might hinder their growth. You can lessen or avoid tension because you will be able to approach situations with more empathy and understanding.
How to Establish A Good Fit
1. Know your temperament – learn the ins and outs and the ups and downs of your temperament. Consider how your preferences and reactions can affect other people, specifically children.
2. Know your child’s temperament – learn the ins and outs and the ups and downs of your child’s temperament. Assess how well your child fits with certain situations and environments. Knowing your child’s temperament will help you anticipate their needs.
3. Teach your child to adapt – as a parent, you can only do so much to create an environment that caters to your child’s temperament. Teach your child about his or her temperament and how they can adjust to new environments and get along with other people.
Summary Parents, teachers, counselors, social workers, and other professionals who work with children will benefit from knowing about temperaments. Knowing your and other people’s temperament is very helpful in understanding and improving your interactions with them. When it comes to adults interacting with children, it can help adults relate and build connections with them.