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The Four Temperaments

The Four Temperaments According to Rudolf Steiner
Physical Etheric Astral Ego
Earth Water Air Fire

"The melancholic children are as a rule tall and slender"

"those with more protruding shoulders are the phlegmatic children"

"the sanguine are the most normal"

"those with a short stout build so that the head almost sinks down into the body are choleric"
"The physical body as such expresses itself only in itself" Read in full context "The etheric body expresses itself in the glandular system" Read in full context "The astral body expresses itself physically in the nervous system" Read in full context "The ego expresses itself in the circulation of the blood" Read in full context
Build: tall, bowed-head, bony

Walk: slow with a drooping, sliding gait

Eyes: tragic, mournful

Relationships: poor, has sympathy only with fellow melancholics

Food: finicky, especially likes sweets

Memory: good concerning self

Interest: self and the past

Clothing: dark, drab, solid colors—is difficult to please

To stimulate: explain how others will suffer if he/she is not compliant

Parent and teacher attitude: show sympathy and empathize with suffering

from Overview of Childhood Characterstics

Build: big, fleshy, rotund

Walk: plodding, ambling (has a steamroller-like quality)

Eyes: sleepy, often half-closed

Relationships: friendly, impassive, reserved

Food: eats most everything and is always interested in food

Memory: good concerning the world Interest: the present, without getting involved

Clothing: conservative

To stimulate: speak directly to the point, use shock tactics

Parent and teacher attitude: show calm strength

from Overview of Childhood Characterstics

Build: slender, elegant, well-balanced

Walk: on toes (dances like a butterfly )

Eyes: lively, dancing

Relationships: fickle

Food: nibbles

Memory: like a sieve

Interest: the present, here and now

Clothing: new and colorful

To stimulate: ask a personal favor

Parent and teacher attitude: show friendly interest, but be firm

from Overview of Childhood Characterstics

Build: bullnecked, upright, short legs, husky

Walk: firm, heels dig into the ground with each step

Eyes: energetic, active

Relationships: friendly as long as he/she is in command

Food: spicy

Memory: poor

Interest: the world, self, and future

Clothing: individual and outstanding

To stimulate: issue a challenge

Parent and teacher attitude: recall events and deeds (the next day), be firm, strong, and to the point

from Overview of Childhood Characterstics

"In the melancholic we have seen that the physical body... becomes master over the others. As a result, the melancholic feels he is not master over his body, that he cannot bend it to his will." Read in full context "The phlegmatic develops when the etheric or life-body, as we call it, which regulates growth and metabolism, is predominant. The result is a sense of inner well-being." Read in full context "Sanguines surrender themselves in a certain sense to the constant and varied flow of images, sensations, and ideas since in them the astral body and nervous system predominate." Read in full context "The choleric thus comes across as someone who must always have his way. His aggressiveness, everything connected with his forcefulness of will, derives from his blood circulation." Read in full context

Factors That Influence Temperament

Since Steiner's tempermanents are used to evaluate and educate your child, it's important to understand how temperaments work at Waldorf.

Steiner says that "temperament is connected to a remarkable degree, with the whole life and soul of a persons's previous incarnation." In other words,

If I were to go into this question in detail from the standpoint of spiritual science, I would have to show you how the child's temperament something really appears that could be described as the consequence of experiences in previous lives on earth.

Steiner, Rudolf. Discussions With Teachers

At first, it may surprise you that Waldorf teachers are trained to consider the effect of past lives and karmic destiny of your child. However, it is important to be sensitive and keep an open mind with regards to this practice. You can learn more about reincarnation and karma on the Anthroposophy page.

Melancholic: What Steiner Says

"[The melancholic's] physical body, which is intended to be an instrument of the higher members, is itself in control, and frustrates the others. This the melancholic experiences as pain, as a feeling of despondency. Pain continually wells up within him. This is because his physical body resists his etheric body's inner sense of well-being, his astral body's liveliness, and his ego's purposeful striving." Read in full context

Sanguines: What Steiner Says

"Sanguines are incapable of lingering over an impression. They cannot fix their attention on a particular image nor sustain their interest in an impression. Instead, they rush from experience to experience, from percept to percept. This is especially noticeable in sanguine children, where it can be a source of concern. The sanguine child's interest is easily kindled, a picture will easily impress, but the impression quickly vanishes." Read in full context

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