Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Basic Introduction to Rudolf Steiner’s Four Temperaments
by Brenda Massei

Ruldolf Steiner promoted the idea of four temperaments, the concept of which have remained rather unchanged since their creation by Hippocrates. Steiner believed the four temperaments, “naturally never manifest themselves in such pure form. Every human being has one basic temperament, with varying degrees of the other three mixed in.” He contends that as we strive for adulthood, we should try to balance our own temperaments. 
Little Red Forest Child
For elementary age children a look at the dominant temperament is a helpful way to promote understanding in the adults who care for them.  Steiner stated “When we meet the children we very soon see that they have different dispositions, and despite the necessity of teaching them in classes, even large classes, we must consider their various dispositions.”  His inspired desire to not fit every single child into one peg was apparent.
Yellow Mandala Window Star Sun Catcher
Today, Steiner’s ideas can help any parent, teacher, or parent-teacher. For instance, applying routines for a phlegmatic child will help both the parent and the child alleviate transition problems. When you understand your child’s dominant temperament, you can approach situations with the best chance of success. Also, if you are having a hard time motivating your child, Ruldolf Steiner’s look at the temperaments may help you find a new approach.
Forest Maiden by Kelly Sundstom
Rudolf Steiner suggested that children usually have a dominant temperament from the four named by Hippocrates: choleric, sanguine, melancholic, and phlegmatic. Blogs, websites, and books are awash with charts on the topic. You can use this small chart as a jumping off point. Please browse the recommended reading for a more in depth look at the temperaments. 
The Four Temperaments:

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Online Charts Available Describing the Temperaments in Depth: View Here
The Four Basic Temperaments: View Here
Felted Wool Acorns
Recommended Reading and Reference:
“The Four Temperaments” Ruldolf Steiner. Ruldolf Steiner Archive, n.d. Read
Steiner, Rudolf. Discussions with Teachers. NY: Anthroposophic Press.  
Text available here
“Children and the Four Temperaments – What?!” The Waldorf Parent’s Forum. Ms. Ilian,  Sept. 16, 2010.
Text available here
“The Four Temperaments.” The Parenting Passageway.  Carrie, May 28, 2010.
 Text available here
“The Four Temperaments and their Role in Waldorf Education." WWS Questions and Answers. Jack Petrash. March 28, 2012. Read
A special thank you to Brenda Massei of Waldorf on Etsy shop, Pail and Pie and the author of the Pioneer Kids blog for sharing this information with us!


  1. Cool info, thanks for sharing, cheers Marie

  2. I’ve read a lot of resources about four temperaments; this information is rather interesting. Here you may find something useful.
    Temperament characterizes the emotional and dynamic aspect of a person’s activity. After reading this information I came to the conclusion that I’m sanguine, because I am cheerful and energetic, but I have unstable mood and I am unstable in interests and hobbies.