Temperament and Parenting

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					Temperament and Parenting

         Lea Rose Dougherty
 Social and Personality Development
              Fall, 2004
      Why Study Child Temperament?
• Researchers have recognized the importance of examining
  intrapersonal factors, such as temperament, as certain
  dispositional characteristics have been associated with, and
  predictive of, behavioral maladjustment

• Intrapersonal factors affect
   • Interpersonal relationships
   • Development of psychopathology
   • Therapy Outcome
           Overview of Lecture

• The Role of Parenting in the Development
  of Temperament

• Behavioral Inhibition and Parenting
Influences of Parenting and Temperament on
             Child Development
• Bell (1968) reconceptualized socialization as a mutually
  interactive process, with both child and caregiver seeking
  to redirect, reduce or augment the behavior of the other

• Researchers began to recognize that children differ in such
  qualities as responsiveness to parental socialization
  strategies, capacity to control their emotional reactivity,
  and capacity to bring pleasure or distress to their parents

• As Rothbart (1989, p. 195) put it, “the infant’s
  temperament regulates and is regulated by the actions of
  others from the earliest hours.”
   Research on Temperament and Parenting
• Temperament and parenting are linked, but it is
  difficult to predict on theoretical grounds what the
  nature of the association should be

• Conceptual and Methodological Issues
   • Genetic similarity of parent and child
   • Nonindependence of measures (parent reports)
   • Any association between concurrent parenting and
     child temperament may also be the result of
     childrearing history

• Few studies allow unambiguous interpretation of
   Research on Temperament and Parenting

• Distress-related temperament attributes (e.g., irritability,
  “difficultness,” negative mood) are associated with poorer
  parenting and general unresponsiveness (e.g., Hemphill &
  Sanson, 2000; Hinde, 1989; Linn & Horrowitz, 1983)

• Child’s positive affect and self-regulation are associated
  with parental responsiveness, social interaction, and use of
  rewards (e.g., Hinde, 1989; Kyrios & Prior, 1990)
   Research on Temperament and Parenting
• It is also possible to argue for another association
  between parenting and child temperament

• There are both positive and negative parenting
  correlates of difficult temperament
   • Maternal warmth and negative dominance (Rubin et al.,
   • Cognitive assistance and disapproval from mothers
     (Gauvain & Fagot, 1995)

• Thus, difficult temperament may be related to
  widely divergent parenting behaviors
  Intervening Variables: Inconsistency in Findings
• Child’s age
   • Parents may begin by investing greater amounts of time
     and energy in their distress-prone child, but may not be
     able to sustain this effort over time

• Child’s gender
   • Less parental acceptance of irritability and NE in girls
     than boys
   • More parental acceptance of shyness in girls and
     irritability in boys
                Intervening Variables
• Parental characteristics
   • Maternal anxiety, self-efficacy, depression, personality

• Social and cultural factors
   • SES
   • Social support
   • Different cultures (e.g., parents greater acceptance
     of BI in Asian Cultures)
Parent and Child Factors in the Development
               of Attachment
• Debate continues regarding the relation of temperament to
  attachment (whether the Strange Situation is really
  measuring temperament or attachment?)

• Some argue that if temperament is related to attachment,
  then some fundamental processes of attachment theory
  may be incorrect
   • This need not be the case!

• From a transactional perspective, it is more likely that
  some combination of individual and contextual factors are
  involved in the development of attachment relationships
  (Cassidy, 1994)
   Temperament and Parenting Cumulative
         Influences on Adjustment
• Additive effects
   • Toddler temperament and parental discipline were independently
     related to children’s antisocial and coercive behavior when they
     were 5-7 years old (Fisher & Fagot, 1992)

• Cumulative risk factors
   • Combination of infant difficult temperament and poor mother-
     child relationship was the most reliable indicator in the prediction
     of 4-5 year old children’s INT and EXT behavior problems
     (Sanson et al., 1991)

• Resilience factor
   • The sociable and adaptable child elicits more care and concern
     from those who can help protect the child from adverse outcomes
    Temperament-Parenting Interactions and
• Multiplicative combinations of temperament and parent
  variables in the prediction of outcomes

• Views of temperament as a moderator of parenting may be
  usefully applied to prevention programs that promote
  parental sensitivity to children’s temperament in the choice
  of socialization techniques

• Views of parenting as a moderator of temperament focus
  more specifically on how parent behavior may act as risk
  or protective factors in child development
   Temperament-Parenting Interactions and

• An more in-depth example of the multiplicative
  relation between temperament and parenting

      • Behavioral Inhibition and Parenting
         What is Behavioral Inhibition?
• Traditional Definition
   • A pattern of responding or behaving, possibly
     biologically based, such that when unfamiliar or
     challenging situations are encountered, the child shows
     signs of anxiety, distress, and wariness (Kagan, 1989)

• Measurement of BI
   • A paradigm developed by Kagan, wherein toddlers’
     reactions to unfamiliar objects and adults are observed
     in an unfamiliar setting
   • Employed in the very early years of childhood (later?)
  Why is the Development of BI Important?
• Later social adjustment problems

• BI many be an early precursor of internalizing
  behavior problems such as anxious and depressive

• Associated with right frontal EEG asymmetry and
  increased cortisol secretion

• Yet, the stability of BI is moderate at best (e.g.,
  Broberg, 1993)
  Why is the Stability of BI Only Moderate?
• It is possible that different types of inhibition in
  very early childhood may predict different
   • Inhibition in the face of unfamiliar peers may be very
     different than BI in the face of unfamiliar objects and

• Key factors exogenous to the child, such as
  parenting, may play a role in the stability of BI
   • Certain parenting practices may increase or decrease
     children’s wariness or fearfulness during peer
What Aspects of Parenting are Important
      to the Development of BI?
• Overprotection
  • The provision of help and physical comfort in
    situations in which it is not required, as well as the
    intrusive restriction of independence

• Parental Criticism and Derision
   • Parents who are critical and derisive, especially in
     the company of others, may incite the development
     of negative thoughts and feelings of the self and
     withdrawal from the social world
Limitations of Research on Temperament and
• Studies primarily involved only concurrent or very
  short term longitudinal analyses of toddler and
  parenting behaviors

• Few, if any, investigators have examined inhibition
  and parenting behaviors as predictors of subsequent
  socially reticent behavior among both males and

• There is a need to examine the extent to which BI and
  parenting independently and interactively predict
  social behavioral and psychological outcomes for
  young children
     Tackling some of these limitations…

• Rubin, Burgess, and Hastings (2002) employed a
  prospective longitudinal design

• Assessments at Age 2 and 4
  • T1 – BI with unfamiliar objects, adults and
    peers; parenting behaviors
  • T2 – Peer play session; “show and tell”
• Meaningful specificity was found in the stability of
  behavioral patterns
   • Early inhibition appears to be linked to specific
     patterns of social responsiveness underlaid with
   • Both traditional and peer-social BI at age 2
     predicted socially reticent behavior during free play
     at 4 years

• What role does parenting play in the development of
  children’s socially reticent behavior?
   Findings: The Role of Early Parenting in
 Predicting Reticent Behavior in Preschoolers
• If mothers demonstrated relatively high frequencies of
  intrusive control and/or derisive comments, then the
  association between their toddlers’ peer inhibition and 4-
  year social reticence was significant and positive

• Whereas if mothers were neither intrusive nor derisive,
  then toddlers’ peer inhibition and 4-year reticence were not
  significantly associated

• Thus, maternal behaviors moderated the relation between
  toddlers’ peer inhibition and preschoolers’ social reticence
   Conclusions: Temperament and Parenting
• Child’s temperament is apparent from early infancy and is
  an important influence on development

• Temperament is moderately stable over time, but is by no
  means immutable

• Temperament contributes to a wide range of child
  outcomes in behavioral, cognitive and social domains

• The task for parents in thinking about temperament is to
  take their child’s particular characteristics into account
  when choosing parenting strategies and in arranging their
  overall childrearing environment
        Criticisms and Future Directions
• An atheoretical approach to the measurement of
  temperament is not likely to advance knowledge

• Obtain “clean” measures of both temperament and

• Future research needs to specify the developmental models
  being tested and be explicit about expected direct,
  mediated, and moderated effects (theory..please!)

• Increase specificity, moving from more global measures of
  temperament, to more specific dimensions, along with
  clearly specified dimensions of parenting

• Don’t forget gender and fathers…
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Lisa Burckell
Daniela Owen

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