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Finding the Child in the Chart

Why are children in a family different from each other, even with the same parents and the same genes? This is a question many parents ask themselves. Temperament, the behavioral characteristics of the child and the usual way they express themselves emotionally, is the key. Astrologers have known about temperament from the Greeks but are there modern concepts derived from scientific research in the field of Early Childhood Development that are available to expand our understanding.

I will share some of what I learned from a research project to tie temperament to the child’s birth chart. Temperament is observable and measurable. I did my research in a Los Angeles Unified School District Childhood Education Center (with the district’s approval as well as the parents) where I taught a class of preschoolers.

I measured eight components of temperament: quality of mood, approach/withdrawal from something new, adaptability, threshold of sensitivity to stimuli, distractibility, persistence, intensity of response and activity level. Children vary in the level of each component which presents a temperamental type such as the “easy child” the “slow-to-warm-up (or shy) child” or the “persistent child.” Each pattern of temperament has individual needs and it is very helpful when parents are given the strategies to meet those needs. Healthy development of the child’s personality depends on whether there is a “good fit” between the child’s temperament and his physical and social environment. In a situation where there is a “bad fit,” there will be conflict and tension leading to maladaptation and behavior problems.

The method I developed to find the temperamental type in each child’s chart has been very successful in helping parents to understand their child’s temperamental type along with strategies to meet the child’s unique needs. Another benefit is to help parents adapt their parenting skills so the child responds in a healthier manner. Change in parental behavior brings about changes in the child’s behavior at any age.

To give an example, one mother with a new baby boy wanted an astrological reading. I could tell her that her son was a slow-to-warm-up child with the characteristics of low-to-moderate activity level, initial withdrawal responses, slow adaptability, and negative mood. These children are slow to move into new situations and need time to adapt. Parents need to be patient and wait. Coaxing or pushing them results in negative behavior. At the same time, they shouldn’t give up offering new things because once the child feels comfortable with the new experience, she will gradually behave like any other child. You have to prepare this child for any changes or new experiences. For example, accompany her to the new preschool for several days until she is ready to join in. The parent can inform the teacher of her characteristics and what to expect. As the child grows older, she will learn how to work with her temperament and find successful ways to deal with it.

Temperament, rooted in biology, is essentially stable over time, but it can also be heightened or diminished or otherwise moderated over time. Being present at birth, development proceeds dynamically through the interaction of the child’s temperament with the physical environment, but more importantly, interaction with others in the family. In thinking of your own family, ask yourself which parent you felt more comfortable with, which sibling was difficult to get along with, how did you choose the friends you most wanted to be with and what types were the people you avoided. Why? You’ll find that differences in temperament explain your choices. This continues through to adult life and affects our relations to those we work with, those with authority over us, and, most especially, to those we marry. Using the concept of temperament in your practice will benefit your work with adults and couples.

The bases in finding the temperament are the elements and qualities. I used the energy approach to astrology developed by Stephen Arroyo in Astrology, Psychology, and the Four Elements. He states, “On the level of normal experience, any relationship may be viewed as an interaction between two energy fields.” (1) If the energy levels are in harmony, the two people feed each other’s energy field which creates a feeling of comfort and satisfaction. An incompatible combination produces a feeling of depletion and fragmentation. Have you ever noticed feeling drained after being around particular people? Don’t you prefer interacting with people who energize you?

The method I eventually developed uses six worksheets to record the level for each temperamental component with a numerical system, telling me if the child is very low up to very high on each. For example, considering again the slow-to-warm-up child, in the approach/withdrawal component (measuring the child’s first response when presented with anything new) he registered low on approach and high on withdrawal. Low approach, coupled with his low score on adaptability, made entering preschool rather difficult. However, the mother was prepared for this and used strategies that helped him ease into it carefully. As the child grew older, he learned about this tendency he had and was able to try out new experiences several times before he accepted or rejected them. The parent’s level of understanding temperament helps the child learn why he may act differently than other children, but also helps him understand that all temperaments are acceptable because we all are born with one already in place.

Another example is a highly distractible child who is easy to handle as a toddler, but upon entering school his short attention span makes it difficult for him to succeed. He needs strategies to learn how to manage this tendency such as lists, reminder notes, a quiet place for doing homework without distractions, and taking short breaks. There are often many planets in mutable signs in this case. Whereas, the persistent child may face difficulties because of her insistence on completing whatever she’s doing or her tendency to “nag” about things she wants. She finds her longer attention span and ability to get tasks done gets rewarded in school. Persistence is noted with a higher level of fixity in the chart.

Children with a low threshold to stimuli are extremely sensitive to loud sounds and lights, the material in their clothes, heat and cold, the taste and texture of food. For example, my grandson only wanted to wear a certain fabric in his pants or would loudly complain. Fortunately, his father was exactly the same way and understood his special needs. This component is determined by the relationship of Mercury to the Sun and the speed of the Moon which is called “the tempo of adjustment” developed by Marc Edmund Jones. (2)

A child with very intense emotional responses can be embarrassing for a parent when in public. Some children whimper but these individuals tend to scream loudly when frustrated. They really can’t help themselves, so simply telling them to calm down is not helpful. The parent can remove him from the situation while accepting and empathizing with his feelings so he knows you understand and care. The parent can also teach the child to recognize the physical signals before he has a meltdown and teach methods that can help, i.e., deep breathing. This component has a signature of Mars and Moon aspects to each other, along with aspects of either to the Ascendant.

Quality of mood is concerned with the overall amount of pleasant, friendly behavior as contrasted with unpleasant, crying, unfriendly behavior. Outgoing children get better adult responses to their friendly behavior than do those children who are less outgoing. These kinds of interactions can have a strong effect on the child’s experience with relationships, especially between contrasting siblings. This is determined by whether there is a dominance of Air/Fire or Earth/Water elements.

High activity children need space and time to use up their strong energy as well as supervision to prevent injuries. Low active children prefer quiet activities but are often subject to constant hurrying by others or, even worse, others taking over and creating dependency problems in the child.

These temperamental patterns are usually due to an over emphasis or a deficiency of a component. Fortunately, 40% of children fall into the category of the “easy child” who are less liable to present behavior problems and grow up to be well-adjusted adults. At least 15-20% of children fall into the “slow-to-warm-up-child” category. Behavior problems appear mostly in the “difficult” or “challenging” child type (10% of the children) which requires patient understanding by the parents in order to prevent behavior problems from developing. These are the percentages given by Thomas, Chess, and Birch in their Longitudinal study. Parents are always happy to learn that it is not their parenting style that’s causing the problem, but the temperament of the child which can be modified by the use of new strategies to fit the temperament. This helps to relieve parent guilt and gives them hope for a better outcome by the use of new strategies.

This technique gives astrologers a safe platform to consult parents about their new baby without trepidation. Astrologers will also find it helpful with couples who have a conflict which may be better understood by considering their respective temperaments and how they fit or don’t fit with one another. There is a lot of information on temperament now available on the internet, even simple scales for self-measurement which is useful. It is my sincere hope that other astrologers will educate themselves on this topic and discover how the information can add to their practice with children as well as adults.

1. Stephen Arroyo, M.A., Astrology, Psychology, and The Four Elements, CRCS Publications, 1975, p. 145.
2. Mark Edmund Jones, The Essential Astrological Analysis, Sabian Publishing Society, 1970, p. 382.

Stella Chess & Thomas Alexander, Temperament in Clinical Practice, The Guilford Press, 1986.
Cornelia Hansen, Kidwheels: Understanding the Child in the Chart, Wessex Astrologer, 2018.
Alexander Thomas, Stella Chess and Herbert Birch, “Temperament and Behavior Disorders in Children,” New York University Press, 1970.

Since receiving her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Development at the California State University, Cornelia Hansen and has been a pre-school Director and Los Angeles Children’s Center teacher. In 1982 she received a second Master’s Degree from Antioch University in Clinical Psychology. She was on staff of the Hollywood Counseling Center for four years while working toward her license as a Marriage, Family and Child Therapist. While there, she taught “Mommy & Me” and parenting skills classes. She was in private practice with Encino Psychological Associates for 17 years. She studied astrology with Joan McEvers and Marion March and wrote a column for their magazine “Aspects.” Her chapter “Parent and Child” was included in Web of Relationships edited by Joan McEvers for Llewellyn Publications in 1992. As a member of AFA, her research article “Identifying Astrological Signatures of Modern Temperamental Components for Use in Working with Children’s Charts” was published in AFA’s Research Journal Volume 18. At present she teaches classes for Kepler College on Counseling with Parents. Her book Kidwheels: Understanding the Child in the Chart (Wessex Astrologer, 2018) was reviewed in TMA Feb/March 2020.


  1. Thank You for your work. Young children is a passion of mine; and astrology a favorite hobby.

  2. Very interesting. I was a primary school teacher for 15 years and now an astrology enthusiast. I’ll be looking into this much more, thank you.

  3. Thank you very much for all this important work. I want to do children’s charts and help parents understand their children better. I am a retired child psychiatric nurse.

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