Such experiences suggest strongly that "nature" as well as "nurture" ..... Differences in temperament and parenting associations for boys and girls have been ...
CHILD TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING
Ann Sanson University of Melbourne and Mary K. Rothbart University of Oregon
Ann Sanson, Department of Psychology, School of Behavioural Science, University of Melbourne, Parkville 3052, Australia
Running Head: TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING
INTRODUCTION Parents often do not become believers in temperament until after the birth of their second child. Before this time, their child's behavior may be seen as a simple and direct outcome of their upbringing, "a tribute to" or "the fault of" the parents. With the second child, management strategies that worked well with the first child may not be effective. Problems experienced with the first child (in feeding, sleeping, coping with strangers) may not exist with the second, but new problems may arise. Such experiences suggest strongly that "nature" as well as "nurture" influences child development, that children differ from each other from very early in life, and that these differences have important implications for parent-child interaction. A number of these individual differences fall under the rubric of child temperament, the subject of this chapter. Here, we define temperament as individual differences in reactivity to internal and external stimulation, and in patterns of motor and attentional self-regulation. The modern understanding that children make important contributions to their social interactions has two roots. The first is temperament research initiated by Thomas and Chess and their colleagues in their pioneering New York Longitudinal Study (NYLS, Thomas, Chess, Birch, Hertzig, & Korn, 1963). The second is Bell's (1968, 1974) reconceptualization of socialization as a mutually interactive process, with both child and caregiver seeking to redirect, reduce, stimulate, or augment the behavior of the other. These insights together have led to the recognition that children differ in such qualities as responsiveness to parents' soothing strategies, capacity to control their own emotional responsivity, and capacity to bring pleasure or distress to their parents. As Rothbart (1989a, p. 195) put it, "the infant's temperament regulates and is regulated by the actions of others from the earliest hours." This chapter explores some of the important mutual influences of parenting and temperament, drawing on both empirical data and clinical insights. We begin by describing the current state of thinking about temperament, as it has developed from its ancient beginnings, and from Thomas and Chess' NYLS study begun in the 1950s. Major dimensions of temperament, their stability over childhood, and relation to other variables are summarized. We then review empirical evidence for relations between temperament and parenting. Theoretical and methodological problems are discussed, and future directions for research are suggested. We also briefly discuss some of the implications of temperament theory and research for parenting.
THE NATURE OF TEMPERAMENT Historical Background Views of adult temperament as linked to the physiology of the individual were found in the ideas of early Greco-Roman physicians; these ideas persisted throughout the Middle Ages (Diamond, 1974). In this approach, a fourfold typology was described and related to a balance of the bodily humours. The melancholic person, negative and prone to sentimentality and sadness, was seen as having a predominance of black bile; the choleric individual, explosive and anger-prone, a predominance of yellow bile; the sanguine person, positive and outgoing, a predominance of blood, and the phlegmatic person, slow to react, a predominance of phlegm. Research on individual differences following this tradition or closely related to it has continued to the present day. In the twentieth century, the ideas directly influenced the work of Pavlov, Wundt, Ebbinghaus, and Eysenck (Eysenck & Eysenck, 1985). The term temperament, however, was used primarily to describe research carried out in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, whereas personality was the term used to describe the mostly factor analytic research done in Britain, western Europe and the United States. (See Eysenck & Eysenck, 1985; Rothbart, 1989b; and Strelau, 1983). Research on individuality in infants and young children was originally not closely related to the adult tradition (but see Rothbart & Derryberry, 1981). This situation is now beginning to change, as similarities between basic dimensions of temperament and personality in children and adults are identified (Halverson, Kohnstamm, & Martin, in press). These are discussed below.
Running Head: TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING
In some of the earliest research on temperament in childhood, the NYLS (Thomas, Chess, Birch, Hertzig, & Korn, 1963) took a clinically oriented approach that was strongly related to parenting issues. The NYLS reacted against a tradition that saw parents as responsible for their children's problems. Chess and Thomas noted instances of child psychopathology that occurred with healthy and committed parenting, and other cases where children showed a consistently adaptive developmental course, even into adulthood, despite severe parental disturbance, family disorganization, and social stress (Chess & Thomas, 1989). A major starting point for Thomas and Chess was the idea that the child's temperament must be considered in any discussion of appropriate parenting. In addition to its practical emphasis, the NYLS was linked to important theoretical issues, as in this observation by Chess, Thomas, and Birch (1965, p. 21), "Events in themselves can have no developmental meaning...the environment is first filtered by the child's own characteristics. Children with different characteristics, therefore, will be affected differently by the same objective occurrence. Not only does the child screen his environment, he also influences it...The child, by his own nature, "conditions" his environment, at the same time that the social and cultural environment affects him." The NYLS concept of goodness-of-fit between characteristics of the child and requirements of the child's environment has been influential in guiding later research, including that on parenting-temperament interactions. We discuss these constructs in greater detail below.
Temperament Dimensions Only in recent years have adult temperament/personality and child development traditions of temperament begun to come together. Although debate and discussion concerning underlying elements of temperament continue (Goldsmith, Buss, Plomin, Rothbart, Thomas, Chess, Hinde, & McCall, 1987), recent research on children's temperament has identified a limited number of dimensions that appear to have parallels in the higher-order factors extracted in studies of adult personality (Digman, 1990; Halverson, Kohnstamm, & Martin, in press; Rothbart, 1989a). The three broad factors that appear to consistently cut across child and adult studies include a positive affect and approach factor (called variously extraversion, surgency or sociability), a negative affect factor, and a control or constraint factor. In the early work of the NYLS, Thomas, Chess, and their colleagues analyzed the content of interviews of 22 parents of infants 2-3 months and older about their infant's reactions to everyday situations (Thomas et al., 1963). This analysis produced a set of nine temperament categories: Activity Level, Rhythmicity, Approach versus Withdrawal, Adaptability, Intensity, Threshold, Quality of Mood, Distractibility, and Attention Span/Persistence. They also identified behavioral patterns including "difficult" and "easy" infants. "Difficultness" describes one pole of a cluster identified in the early NYLS work, including negative mood, withdrawal, low adaptability, high intensity, and low regularity (Thomas et al., 1963). The opposite pole of this measure was described as "easy." The "difficult child" construct has had a strong influence on the field, and many studies of temperament and parenting have employed measures of child difficultness. In subsequent research in the area, however, dimensions making up this "difficultness" construct have not been found to cluster together (Bates, 1989). This has led some researchers to develop their own "difficultness" measures. Thus, a "difficultness" measure in one study may employ the NYLS definition. In another, it may simply include irritability or negative emotionality, and in another, it may reflect the actual empirical clustering of temperament variables. This creates problems for consolidating findings using the construct. The difficultness construct has been criticized in the literature for other reasons (Plomin, 1982; Rothbart, 1982). It adds a value connotation to temperament that may not correspond to the actual feelings of the parent, and ignores the fact that any temperament characteristic (e.g., high or low approach, high or low attentional control) may be "difficult" or "easy," depending on the requirements of the situation. Despite our reservations about the usefulness of the construct, a number of the research studies reviewed in this chapter rely upon "difficulty" because they have been so widely employed.
Running Head: TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING
The nine more specific NYLS dimensions have also been widely used in research on childhood temperament. However, questions have arisen about the extent to which scales measuring the dimensions show conceptual overlap with one another, or are not internally consistent. Because of these problems, factor analyses of questionnaire items have been carried out on parent report scales of infant temperament derived from the NYLS categories (Bohlin, Hagekull, & Lindhagen, 1981; Sanson, Prior, Garino, Oberklaid, & Sewell, 1987). A review of results from these analyses, related to analyses of scales derived from other theoretical frameworks, suggests that fewer than nine dimensions can adequately account for infant temperamental variability (Rothbart & Mauro, 1990). This "shorter list" of temperament dimensions in infancy includes Fear, Irritability/Anger, Positive Affect (including approach), Activity Level, and Attentional Persistence. A sixth dimension of Rhythmicity has been reliably extracted, but tends to account for only a relatively small portion of the variance. Factor analyses of questionnaire items based on the NYLS for older children have revealed similar broad factors. Data on a large sample of toddlers in the Australian Temperament Project (ATP) identified factors labeled Irritability, Approach, Cooperation-Manageability, Activity-Reactivity, Rhythmicity, Persistence, Threshold and Distractibility (Prior, Sanson, & Oberklaid, 1989a; Sanson, Prior, & Oberklaid, 1991a). When a second factor analysis was performed on these scales, three broad dimensions emerged, labeled Negative Emotionality, Self-Regulation, and Sociability. The major factors emerging from factor analyses of the Thomas and Chess (1977) Childhood Temperament Questionnaire, completed by mothers of children in the ATP at the ages of 3 to 8 years, were Inflexibility (irritability and uncooperativeness), Persistence, Sociability and Rhythmicity (Sanson, Smart, Prior, Oberklaid, & Pedlow, in press b); these factors remained constant over three age groups within this period (Pedlow, Sanson, Prior, & Oberklaid, 1993). Using the Children's Behavior Questionnaire, an extensive parent report measure of temperament for 3- to 8-year-olds (Ahadi & Rothbart, in press; Ahadi, Rothbart, & Ye, in press; Kochanska, DeVet, Goldman, Murray, & Putnam, 1993), three broad factors have consistently been found. The first, called Surgency, is defined primarily by the scales of Approach, High Intensity Pleasure, Activity Level, and a negative contribution from Shyness. The second, called Negative Affectivity, is defined by the scales of Discomfort, Fear, Anger/Frustration, Sadness, and loading negatively, Soothability. The third factor, labeled Effortful Control, is defined by the scales of Inhibitory Control, Attentional Focusing, Low Intensity Pleasure and Perceptual Sensitivity. The first three factors emerging from a recent factor analysis of the NYLS-inspired Middle Childhood Temperament Questionnaire items (Hegvik, McDevitt, & Carey, 1982) for 8- to 12-year-olds (McClowry, Hegvik, & Teglasi, 1993) also shows striking similarity to these three factors: Approach/Withdrawal, Negative Reactivity, and Task Persistence. Their two smaller factors, Activity and Responsiveness, also parallel smaller factors in the ATP, Activity and Threshold (Sanson, Smart, Prior, Oberklaid, & Pedlow, in press b). Considering variability in item content, age of children, and whether analyses were based on items or scale scores, these levels of comparability among factors is notable (Martin, Wisenbaker, & Hutunen, in press). Further, these factors show strong similarities with the "Big Three" factors and three of the "Big Five" factors that have emerged from analyses of self and peer reports describing personality in adult subjects (Goldberg, 1993; McCrae & Costa, 1987; Tellegen, 1985). The Negative Affectivity factor from childhood measures appears to map on the broad adult dimension of Neuroticism or Negative Emotionality. The Surgency, Sociability, or Approach/Withdrawal factors map on the broad adult dimension of Extraversion or Positive Emotionality. The Persistence or Effortful Control factors can be seen to map upon the adult dimension of Control/Constraint (see Ahadi & Rothbart, in press).
Temperament and Biology
Much data has now accumulated in twin, family, and adoption studies on genetic bases for individual differences in temperament and personality (see discussions of Bornstein, Gaughran & Homel, 1986; Goldsmith, 1989; Plomin & Stocker, 1989). Current research and thinking in neuroscience also continues to make links between temperamental variation and neural substrates (Gray, 1987a, 1987b; LeDoux, 1989; Panksepp, 1986; Zuckerman, 1991; reviews by Gunnar, 1990, Rothbart, 1989b;
Running Head: TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING
Rothbart, Derryberry & Posner, in press). Just as ancient students of temperament related behavior to the human body as it was understood at that time, so current research suggests relations between individual differences in behavior and physiology. In current frameworks of affective neuroscience, positive and negative affective processes underlying tendencies to approach (i.e., Surgency or Extraversion) and avoid (i.e., Negative Affectivity or Anxiety) have been related to systems labeled Behavior Activation/Facilitation and Behavior Inhibition, respectively (Gray, 1987a, 1987b). These systems have in turn been related to the activity of distributed neural circuits linking cortical brain regions to limbic and brainstem regions. The limbic components of these circuits are proposed to recognize evolutionarily significant information such as the presence of reward (for Approach) or threat (for Fear). Outputs of these evaluations contact circuits for motor reactions and the autonomic activity that supports motor action. In this view, individual differences in temperament reflect variability in the information processing of the value or significance or events or objects to the individual. This emotional information can be further influenced by attentional systems of the brain (Posner & Petersen, 1990), and individual differences in attentional systems can also be seen to support behavioral persistence and effortful control (Posner & Rothbart, 1991). Although research linking temperament and physiology is at an early stage, developments in this area will allow a more complete understanding of basic dimensions of temperament in the future.
Stability of Temperament It has generally been assumed that, to be meaningful or important, temperament must show substantial stability across time. Typically, however, modest to moderate stability across age has been found, with correlations ranging from 0.2 to 0.4 (see Hubert, Wachs, Peters-Martin, & Gandour, 1982; McDevitt, 1986; Rothbart, 1989a; Slabach, Morrow, & Wachs, 1991). Two recent developments, however, may serve to modify conclusions about temperamental stability. First, it has been noted that even genetic underpinnings do not imply immutability over time (Hinde, 1989). Second, when conceptual and methodological problems are controlled, higher levels of stability are found. Given major changes in a child's behavioral repertoire, manifestations of temperament will likely change over time. To assess relative stability of an individual's temperamental characteristics, it is therefore necessary to establish continuity in the temperament constructs studied across time (Sanson et al., 1991a). Early work, including research based on the NYLS conceptualization, did not attend to this issue with rigor. Apparent instability may therefore have been due to discontinuity in the underlying constructs. Another possible source of instability is likely to be error of measurement, also rarely taken into account to date. A recent study by Pedlow et al. (1993) on the ATP sample from infancy to 7 to 8 years of age illustrates the consequences of dealing with these issues. By using structural equation modeling, a set of factors that apply either across the whole age range (Approach/Sociability, Rhythmicity) or across three or more time intervals (Irritability, Persistence, Cooperation-Manageability, and Inflexibility) was identified. The model, which corrects for attenuation of correlations due to error of measurement, was then used to assess individual stability on these factors from year to year. Estimates were considerably higher than those previously reported, mostly in the range of 0.7 to 0.8. Even with these levels of stability, however, there is considerable room for individuals to change in their relative characteristics. When children in the ATP were placed in four categories from lowest to highest on the basis of their temperament scores at each age, few remained in the same category over all years from infancy to 8 years (Sanson et al., 1991a). On the other hand, very few changed from one extreme category to the other extreme.
Functional Significance It is now generally agreed that individual differences in child temperament are predictive of later development and psychiatric risk (Rutter, 1987). Both concurrent and prospective relations between temperament and behavior problems have been documented (e.g., Barron & Earls, 1984; Garrison & Earls, 1987; Kyrios & Prior, 1990; Maziade, 1989; Prior et al., 1989a), but prediction from
Running Head: TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING
infancy is relatively weak (Bates, Maslin, & Frankel, 1985; Cameron, 1978; Maziade, 1989; Sanson, Oberklaid, Pedlow, & Prior, 1991c). Early temperament is also associated with more specific behavioral outcomes such as aggression (Sanson, Smart, Prior, & Oberklaid, in press a). Other outcomes studied include physical health, intellectual development, rate of development, child abuse, and reaction to stressful life events such as parental divorce. There is at least tentative evidence for relations with temperament in all these areas, although the effects are generally small (see Prior, 1991). Many of these studies have employed some version of the "difficult temperament" construct; others have tapped specific temperamental characteristics such as negative affect, distress proneness, high activity or intensity, and low adaptability, and have found associations between them and behavioral problems. Several methodological issues must be considered in interpreting this literature on prediction, however. Most of the studies are based on maternal reports of both temperament and outcome, so the measures are not independent of each other. A concern also arises regarding potential confounding of the concepts of extreme or "difficult" temperament and behavior problems. For example, the questions asked to assess temperament dimensions such as activity, approach/withdrawal, and adaptability may be very similar to those used to assess hyperactivity, shyness and oppositional behavior, respectively. For example, the question, "How wary is your child with strangers?" may tap approach/withdrawal (temperament) or extreme shyness (a behavior problem). A study by Sanson, Prior and Kyrios (1990) suggested that measures of externalizing (acting out) behavior disorders are relatively unconfounded with temperament measures, but some confounding occurs for measures of internalizing problems (shyness, anxiety). Factors of Activity/Intensity and Irritability showed confounding with both internalizing and externalizing problems. Although some conceptual overlap might be expected if temperament contributes to the development of behavior problems (Bates, 1990), caution is required in interpreting the association. This problem may increase with age--"difficult" temperament in infancy may be based largely on emotionality, but among older children it may relate more to manageability and therefore be conceptually closer to behavior problems (Rothbart, Posner, & Hershey, in press).
DIRECT ASSOCIATIONS BETWEEN CHILD TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING The expectation that child temperament and parenting would be associated seems reasonable, but it has proved difficult both to predict on theoretical grounds what the nature of the associations should be, and to obtain fully persuasive empirical evidence of such links. Methodological issues are one important basis for this difficulty, and we now consider these issues. Parent report is the most frequent source of data on infant temperament. If parent report is also used to assess parenting, there is a clear potential for non-independence of measures, because characteristics of the parent may affect both their parenting practices and their report of their child's temperament. Because the child's temperament is likely to be affected by prior parenting, any association between concurrent parenting and child temperament may also be the result of childrearing history. In her review of the links between infant emotionality and parenting, Crockenberg (1986) noted that few studies attain independence between temperament and parenting variables. In addition, the apparent effects of parenting on the child may be related to the genetic similarity of parent and child (Scarr, 1992). Given these caveats, it is not surprising that relatively few studies of parenting and temperament allow unambiguous interpretation of results. Because of these problems, we do not attempt a comprehensive review of studies in this area. More detailed reviews of the association between infant negative emotionality and parenting can be found in Crockenberg (1986), and Bates (1987) has reviewed the literature on the influence of temperament on parent-child interaction. We emphasize here studies whose results are more clearly interpretable. We also stress the importance of third variables such as age and gender in influencing relations between temperament and parenting, and finally suggest in a section on joint contributions that some of the most promising thinking and research involves using combinations of temperament and parenting variables to predict outcomes in children.
Running Head: TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING
Empirical Studies of Parenting-Temperament Linkages
Direct associations. Some general positive relations between parenting and temperament have been expected: The adaptable, easy to soothe, or sociable child may elicit warm and responsive parenting, whereas the irritable, demanding, or withdrawing child may elicit parental irritation and withdrawal of contact or stimulation. Conversely, warm and responsive parenting may decrease the expression of negative emotionality in the child, and distant or inconsistent parenting may increase it. There is evidence in favor of these expectations. Most of the relevant studies have focused on distressrelated temperament attributes (e.g., irritability, "difficultness," negative mood) which tend to covary with poor parenting and general unresponsiveness (e.g., Buss, 1981; Campbell, 1979; Crockenberg & Acredolo, 1983; Hinde, 1989; Kelly, 1976; Linn & Horowitz, 1983). Others have noted associations between the child's positive affect and self-regulation and parental responsiveness, social interaction, and use of rewards (e.g., Hinde, 1989; Kyrios & Prior, 1990; West, McLaughlin, Rieser, Brooks, & O'Connor, 1986). The direction of causation is, of course, not clear in these studies. However, it is also possible to argue for another association between parenting and child temperament. If we assume most parents to be highly invested in their children, we might predict that parents with more irritable or difficult children will exert more positive efforts with them than with easier children. Crockenberg (1986) cited seven studies finding greater parent involvement with greater infant irritability; we have been unable to find more. In none of these studies, however, is there evidence that "positive" child temperament qualities are related to "negative" parenting; instead, the links are between characteristics like child irritability and higher maternal contact and stimulation. For example, Fish and Crockenberg (1986) found that crying and time to calm at 1 and 3 months in a small sample of infants were associated with more caregiving and social interaction with the mother at 9 months. Similarly, Caron and Miller (1981) found that African mothers were more responsive to highly irritable babies. Moderating variables. Evidence for the two contrasting relations between temperament and parenting discussed above combined with findings of mixed effects (e.g., Klein, 1984) leads to the conjecture that third factors may also be involved. There are also several published accounts of no association between temperament and parenting, and given the difficulty in getting such null results published, these may be an underestimate (Daniels, Plomin & Greenhalgh, 1984; Rothbart, 1986; Vaughn, Taraldson, Crichton, & Egeland, 1981; Wachs & Gandour, 1983). It is notable that, although the majority of the null findings are obtained from large-sample studies, most of the studies finding associations have been obtained from relatively small samples--these findings may be spurious, or it may be that the influence of competing third variables "cancels out" effects found with smaller and more homogeneous samples.
Age. There is indeed suggestive evidence of the role of third variables in moderating the association between parenting and child temperament. One, suggested by Crockenberg (1986), is the child's age. Parents may begin by investing greater effort in their distress-prone child, but not be able to sustain this effort over time. Consistent with this notion are findings of Peters-Martin and Wachs (1984): At 6 months, infant withdrawal as assessed by mothers' report was related to more maternal emotional and verbal responsiveness, and less restriction and punishment. By 12 months, intensity (another negative affect temperament dimension) was related to less maternal involvement and more restriction and punishment. It should be noted, however, that these were the only significant correlations out of a large set. Similarly, in an observational study by Maccoby, Snow, and Jacklin (1984), mothers of boys who were "difficult" (fussy, intense, hard to soothe) at 12 months showed a reduction in their teaching efforts in a joint teaching-learning task at 18 months. Among easy-going boys, mothers' teaching efforts increased over this time. Greater teaching effort at 12 months also predicted a decline in boys' difficultness, suggesting bidirectional effects. Bates, in a series of reports of a longitudinal study following children from 6 months to 2 years (Bates, Olson, Pettit, & Bayles, 1982; Lee & Bates, 1985; Pettit & Bates, 1984), also found a reversal of relations. At both 6 and 13 months, babies with high ratings on a "fussy/difficult" factor from maternal report and observation received more affectionate contact and object stimulation from their mothers. At 24 months, however, more difficult children resisted their mothers' efforts at control, and received
Running Head: TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING
more negative control from their mothers. Although this may partially reflect changes in underlying definitions of "difficult," these findings suggest that some mothers respond to their harder-to-parent infants with greater efforts, but cannot--or do not--sustain this over time. Sex. A recent meta-analysis by Lytton and Romney (1991) found little difference in parenting of boys and girls overall, but the authors did not consider potential sex by temperament interactions. Differences in temperament and parenting associations for boys and girls have been documented. Gordon (1983) observed 2- to 4-year-old children interacting with their mothers. Children classified as "easy" on the basis of maternal report did not differ in behavior from "difficult" children, but mothers gave more commands to "easy" than to "difficult" boys, and fewer commands to "easy" than to "difficult" girls. Crockenberg (1986), reanalyzing data from Crockenberg and Smith (1982), found mothers to be more responsive to the crying of irritable girls than boys. Klein (1984) found that children who typically showed intense reactions to stimulation differed in the types of maternal contact they received--highly intense boys received high levels of physical contact and intense girls more distal vocal stimulation. Simpson and Stevenson-Hinde (1985) documented better relationships with mothers for shy than for non-shy girls, but the opposite for boys. Two studies of fathers' parenting also found sex differences: Lamb and colleagues (Lamb, Frodi, Hwang, Forstromm, & Corry, 1982) found fathers to be more involved with difficult sons and easy daughters, and Rendina and Dickerscheid (1976) found fathers to be more involved in social activities with difficult boys and less with difficult girls. A subgroup of children in the ATP were followed closely from 3 to 7 years (Sanson, Smart, Prior, & Oberklaid, 1993). For these subjects, early child inflexibility was related to later parental punishment for girls only, suggesting less parent acceptance of negativity in girls than in boys. Overall, there were more significant correlations between early parenting and later temperament for girls, suggesting possibly greater responsivity in parenting practices to daughters. Differential beliefs about the acceptability and desirability of temperamental attributes for boys and girls might explain these patterns of parental responses, with the predominant pattern emerging from these data being more positive responses to boys' difficultness, and lower acceptance of difficultness in girls, especially on the part of fathers. It is likely that failing to differentiate between girls and boys has resulted in some of the inconsistencies in findings that we have previously noted. Maternal characteristics. A third category of moderating variables involves mothers' psychological and social characteristics. Escalona (1968) noted that more anxious mothers tended to lose confidence when their usual soothing techniques failed to work for their infants, whereas the confidence of other mothers was relatively unaffected. She suggested that a sense of maternal incompetence might have far-reaching consequences for mother and child. Her hypothesis was supported in a study by Teti and Gelfand (1991), who concluded that maternal self-efficacy mediated a link between "fussy-difficult" ratings for infants and their mothers' lower competence (sensitivity, warmth, engagement). Similarly, Gowen, Johnson-Martin, Goldman, and Appelbaum (1989) found that infant irritability predicted both depression and a sense of parenting incompetence, and Cutrona and Troutman (1986) found that infant difficultness was strongly related to post-partum depression, both directly and through self-efficacy. Because depressed and nondepressed mothers vary in their parenting (see Field, in this handbook; Tronick, 1989), temperament difficultness might have an indirect impact on parenting. Genetic overlap between parent and child needs to be taken into account, however, in considering these relationships (Scarr, 1992). Extreme children. Temperament and parenting may be more closely related for some children than for others. Buss and Plomin (1984) argued that children with extreme temperament characteristics should be less affected by their environments than those with less extreme characteristics. A relative immunity to environmental influences would provide one explanation for the greater stability found for children at extremes on temperamental attributes in the ATP longitudinal study (Sanson et al., 1991a) and in other data sets (e.g., Kagan, Reznick, & Snidman, 1986). Data from two studies suggest that parenting may affect children with some temperament profiles more than others. Crockenberg and McCluskey (1985) found a relation between mother responsiveness at 3 months and babies' crying at 12 months only for babies who were low in irritability at 3 months. Feinman and Lewis (1983) noted that 10-month-old infants followed the example of their
Running Head: TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING
mothers in being friendly or unfriendly to strangers. This social referencing effect was stronger for "easy" than "difficult" babies. In the above two studies, the implied direction of effects is from parenting to temperament, or at least to temperament expression. Maccoby et al. (1984) noted that potential parenting effects on temperament have been under-researched, probably because of the belief that temperament is in its nature relatively immutable. However, as indicated in our discussion of stability, temperament is not unchanging in its expression, and a case can be made that parenting would be an impetus to change. In many of the studies reviewed to this point, the direction is moot, and may as easily be parenting-totemperament as the hypothesized temperament-to-parenting. Social and cultural factors. In a study of social support, Crockenberg and McCluskey (1985) found that, when mothers had low social support and their babies were more irritable as measured in neonatal testing, the mothers showed less sensitivity to their babies at 12 months. In studies of SES, Bates et al. (1982) and Bates, Maslin, and Frankel (1985) found no consistent SES interactions on the effect of temperament on parent-child relationships. However, Prior, Sanson, Carroll, and Oberklaid (1989b) examined temperament and parenting practices among groups of 3- to 4-year-old children drawn from the upper and lower SES quartiles of a large sample. They found almost twice as many significant correlations between temperament factors and parenting dimensions in the high SES group as in the low SES group, and interpreted this result as evidence of possible greater sensitivity to the individuality of their children among high SES mothers. Numerous studies have found mean differences on temperament scales between children in different cultural contexts (e.g., Ahadi, Rothbart, & Ye, in press; Kohnstamm, 1989; Kyrios, Prior, Oberklaid, & Demetriou, 1989), and accounts of cultural differences in parenting practices also abound (see Whiting & Whiting, 1973). No studies appear to have addressed parenting-temperament interactions in different cultural groups explicitly, although indirect evidence of a link is often found. For example, DeVries and Sameroff (1984) assessed the temperament of infants from three East African societies. Substantial differences were found between cultural groups in temperament scores, and these were argued to be due to "child-rearing behavior encoded in social custom" (p. 93).
Conclusions About Parenting-Temperament Linkages
The studies reviewed here do not lend themselves to simple conclusions about parenting and temperament. Even when methodological problems are taken into account, variability in findings is common, and the same temperament characteristics (e.g., negative emotionality, irritability) have been shown to be related to both "good" and "poor" parenting. To an extent, Bates' (1987) conclusion that effects are small, inconsistent, and inconclusive thus appears to remain valid. On the other hand, although the amount of research investigating the influence of third variables is limited, it provides persuasive evidence that non-temperamental characteristics of the child (age and sex), characteristics of the caregiver (sex, psychological health), and of the caregiving environment (social support, life stresses, social class and cultural affiliation), all affect links between temperament and parenting. These effects in turn suggest that parent attitudes and beliefs about parenting and children are likely to be very important in temperament-parenting interaction. Super and Harkness (1981; Harkness & Super, this handbook) refer to this set of attitudes and beliefs as the caregiver's "ethnotheory." The trend in the data on age effects, for example, makes sense if parents believe the irritable infant "can't help it," whereas the more negative toddler is "naughty" or will be "spoiled" if parents give in to a negative disposition. Much of the data on sex effects is interpretable in terms of parental beliefs that boys will be active, intense, and hard to manage, and need to "stand up for themselves," whereas girls will be more docile and compliant, and need to "be cooperative." The ability of parents to adapt to their child's temperamental characteristics may also be related their own psychological characteristics, such as a sense of competence in the parenting role, stresses they experience, and supports available to them. In her review of parenting associations with infant irritability, Crockenberg (1986) noted that mothers in three of the studies where an association was found between irritability and low maternal responsiveness were in stressed circumstances. Variations are also likely in the extent to which parent behavior is governed by unconscious (automatic)
Running Head: TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING
reactions, or by active seeking to understand the child and to adapt parenting accordingly (Papousek & Papousek, this handbook). Social class and cultural differences suggest that parents may differ in their core beliefs about the nature of the child and whether child individuality "matters." In some cultural settings (e.g., more collectivistic ones that may value individuality less), it may be seen as less necessary or appropriate to adapt parenting styles to a child's particular characteristics. Clearly, more work must be done to understand contextual influences on parenting-temperament relations. The promising effects of third variables, however, leads us to turn to more complex relations between temperament and parenting, i.e., joint influences of these variables on child outcomes.
COMBINED EFFECTS OF TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING Early formulations of the idea that similar parenting may have different consequences for children with different temperament characteristics have included Escalona's (1968) concept of "effective experience," further developed in Wachs and Gruen's (1982) notion of "organismic specificity," and the term "goodness of fit," first used in the NYLS (Thomas, Chess, & Birch, 1968) and further developed by Lerner and Lerner (1983). In these conceptualizations, variation in an outcome measure such as psychosocial adjustment, cognitive development, or behavior problems is seen to result from differential reactions of children with differing temperament to similar parenting. We believe that these more complex views of temperament and parenting may prove to be a good deal more useful than searching for simple direct associations such as those described above. Here we consider two general classes of outcome variable. One is security of attachment, viewed as an outcome of transactions between parent and infant; the second is behavioral adjustment. The significance of temperament on its own for behavioral adjustment has already been outlined; here the emphasis is on interactions between temperament and parenting in relation to behavioral adjustment. Other potential outcome constructs, including cognitive development, school achievement and selfesteem, are not reviewed due to space limitations, and because the research base is generally thinner in these areas. Bates (1989) has touched upon some of these areas in his review.
Attachment There is an ongoing debate on the relationship of temperament to attachment. Attachment is an outcome of the parent-child relationship to which both parent and child contribute, however, and hence is relevant to the concerns of this chapter. Although it has been argued that parents' sensitivity to infant behavior is the crucial antecedent to security of attachment (e.g., Sroufe, 1985), there is substantial empirical support for the notion that the child's temperament is related to how the child reacts during separation and reunion with the parent in the Strange Situation procedure, and this affects the child's attachment classification as securely or insecurely attached (see Goldsmith & Alansky, 1987). Some researchers have failed to find direct relations between temperament and attachment security (e.g., Bates et al., 1985; Sroufe, 1985). However, Calkins and Fox (1992) observed that this most frequently occurs in studies using parent reports of temperament rather than observational measures. A variety of temperament attributes in infancy has been found to relate to later attachment security, including sociability to strangers and mother ratings as "easy" (Frodi, 1983), proneness to distress (Belsky & Rovine, 1987), neonatal distress reactivity such as crying at removal of pacifier (Calkins & Fox, 1992), and "object-orientation" versus "person-orientation" (Lewis & Feiring, 1989). Temperament characteristics of fear (Thompson, Connell, & Bridges, 1988) and "difficultness" (Weber, Levitt, & Clarke, 1986) have also been found to relate to the infant's negative reactions, such as resistance to the mother in the Strange Situation. One can conjecture about the processes by which any of these temperamental attributes may be related to the mother-child relationship and attachment. However, none of these studies included measures of parenting. Some studies have included measures of both temperament and parenting as predictors of attachment, allowing us to examine parenting-temperament interactions. Mangelsdorf, Gunnar, Kestenbaum, and Lang (1990) found no main-effect relations between proneness to distress at 9 months and security of attachment classification at 13 months. However, they did find that
Running Head: TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING
attachment could be predicted from the interaction between maternal personality and infant temperament. An insecure attachment was more probable when distress-prone infants' mothers had high constraint scores, indicating rigidity, traditionalism and low risk taking. Teti and Gelfand (1991) found secure attachment in preschool children to be related to sensitive, involved and flexible parenting and the child's sociability towards the mother, with both measures taken from free-play observations. Insecure attachment was related to the child's negative affectivity (irritability, avoidance, and resistance). A final study comes even closer to letting us examine mother-child interactions over time as they affect attachment, and we consider it in more detail. Van den Boom (1989) used a neonatal behavior scale administered at 10 and 15 days of age to select an extremely irritable group of infants representing the top 17% of the low-SES sample tested, and a group of non-irritable infants, drawn from the remaining 83% of the sample. She observed the selected infants with their mothers twice a month to the age of 6 months, and measured mother sensitivity (looking, affective, stimulating, and soothing behaviors) and infant behavior (positive and negative social signals). A rating scale of maternal sensitivity including general attitude, availability, and physical and social contact was also used. Both mothers and observers completed temperament scales at 6 and 12 months, and attachment security was assessed at 12 months. Mother and child behaviors differed in relation to newborn infant temperament. More of the irritable infants were classified as anxious/avoidant in attachments to their mothers at 12 months, and their mothers were rated as more unresponsive. This suggested bidirectional effects, with child irritability hindering maternal responsiveness, and ineffective maternal soothing behaviors failing to inhibit child irritability. Among the irritable group, van den Boom also found a gradual retreat from contact with the baby associated with maternal unresponsiveness. Irritability was associated with perceptions of the infant as "difficult" at 6 and 12 months, and "difficultness" was associated with more maternal noninvolvement with age. These results are both consistent with and extend the studies reported above, demonstrating how individual differences in irritability and mothers' responsiveness mutually interact to affect the attachment processes. Perhaps the most persuasive part of van den Boom's study is its intervention component (van den Boom, in press). Here 50 low-SES mothers of 6-month-old irritable infants assessed as newborns received specific training in soothing and playing with their babies, and were compared to a matched untreated control group of irritable infants. Differences between the intervention and control groups were found on measures of quality of mother-child interaction, quality of infant exploratory behavior at 9 months, and attachment status at 12 months. Intervention group mothers were also more responsive, stimulating, and controlling. Their babies were more sociable and exploratory and cried less, and were more cognitively sophisticated in their exploratory behavior. Secure attachment was significantly more common in the intervention group (68% versus 28% of the control group). Thus changes in mothers' behavior clearly led to changes in mother-child interaction and to changes in child behavior. This study highlights the importance of tracking both temperament and parenting in detail to unravel the bidirectional processes involved. An irritable infant is predisposed to insecure attachment, likely due at least in part to the mother coming to ignore the infant. Intervention prevents this maternal component from further leading the child to develop avoidant (independent) coping strategies. This set of studies provides persuasive evidence that temperament facilitates or impedes the attachment process in an ongoing transactional process with parenting. This transactional nature of attachment development was suggested by Rothbart and Derryberry (1981, p. 68) over a decade ago: "As important as the mother's sensitivity and flexibility may be, the role of the child's constitutional capacities and limitations in shaping her behavior should not be underestimated. Nor should the sensitivity and flexibility of the infant be neglected, for infants vary greatly in their capacity to augment or reduce their own reactivity, and to bring distress or pleasure to their care-givers. It seems essential that the mother-infant interaction and the resulting attachment process be viewed as a function of two intricate and flexible interactional systems, which can achieve a 'balance' in a number of ways."
Running Head: TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING
Behavioral Adjustment The first set of studies to investigate the joint influence of temperament and parenting on behavioral adjustment was the NYLS (Thomas et al., 1968). They developed the notion of "goodness of fit" as a means of analyzing the ontogenesis and evolution of behavior disorders, and a framework for treatment and intervention. Goodness of fit was said to result "when the child's capacities, motivations and temperament are adequate to master the demands, expectations and opportunities of the environment" (Chess & Thomas, 1989, p. 380). The specific nature of "fit" is undefined, but suggests that different styles of parenting will fit different children. The implication is that, because "difficult" babies are more demanding to parent, the usual parenting strategies may be ineffective with them. They may also often elicit poorer parenting; this provides a link between early temperament and later behavioral maladjustment. Within the NYLS, multiple examples have been reported of apparent mismatches between child and parent preceding poor behavioral outcomes (Chess & Thomas, 1984; Thomas & Chess, 1977). One example is the case of Roy, a highly distractible child. As an infant, Roy's "easy" distractibility allowed parental soothing to be quick and effective. As an older child, however, Roy was often unreliable and forgetful. His mother engaged in extensive nagging to try to gain the child's cooperation. In time, Roy came to "tune out" the mother's messages, and Roy's mother increasingly judged her child in negative terms. The child's behavior did not improve, and the mother was not willing to appreciate the consistency of her child's temperament characteristics. Other studies can also be conceptualized within a "goodness of fit" framework. For example, Kochanska (1991) found in the development of conscience that anxious children are more affected by parenting practices such as power assertion than non-anxious children. Crockenberg (1987) found that irritable infants who had angry, punitive mothers were more angry, non-compliant, and less confident as 2-year-olds than less irritable infants with similar parenting. "Goodness of fit" has more recently been operationalized by the Lerners (e.g., Lerner & Lerner, 1983) as the discrepancy between the child's actual temperament and others' (usually parent's or teacher's) concepts of the "ideal" temperament for the child. They argue that the same temperament may be associated with positive or negative parent-child interactions and outcomes, depending on parents' values and expectations about that temperament attribute. Studies have sought to demonstrate that the discrepancy between "real" and "ideal" temperament is more strongly related to outcome measures than is the child's temperament on its own. Several studies have provided some support for this notion within the school setting, although the improvement in predictive power provided by the discrepancy score has usually been small (Keogh, 1986; Lerner, Nitz, Talwar, & Lerner, 1989; Talwar, Nitz, & Lerner, 1990). There has been mixed support in other settings (e.g., Hagekull & Bohlin, 1990; Mangelsdorf et al., 1990; Wallander, Hubert, & Varni, 1988). These studies have not incorporated measures of parenting per se, however, so there is no direct evidence that the effect of the discrepancy between "real" and "ideal" is mediated by parenting variables. This operationalization of "goodness of fit" is also somewhat problematic. Notions of what is an "ideal" temperament tend to have little variability (Windle & Lerner, 1986), so they contribute little to discrepancy scores. There has also been a tendency to look at a limited number of parental or teacher expectations or ideals, ignoring other potentially more complex relations such as those between parent and child temperament, or between temperament and the physical environment. Finally, the term "goodness of fit" tends to suggest a symmetrical and unchanging relationship between the child and his/her world, whereas, as Windle and Lerner (1986) note, it is a dynamic transactional process, and measures of it need to capture child-environment interactions over time. Another approach to conceptualizing differential effects of parenting on children of differing temperaments has been Escalona's (1968) concept of "effective experience." She noted how an active child will seek out toys, whereas an inactive one may require an adult to present them. Thus, the presence of toys in the house implies different learning experiences for different children. Similarly, Gandour (1989) found children's activity level and the intensity of stimulation provided by the parents to interact in predicting the exploratory competence of toddlers and the total amount of exploration they display. The notion of "effective experience" has parallels to "active" effects in Scarr and McCartney's (1983) model of genotype-environment interactions, wherein children seek out and create
Running Head: TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING
environments compatible with their genotypes. Of course, passive effects (mediated through genetically based similarities in temperament between parent and child) and evocative effects (where the child's temperament "draws out" particular parenting characteristics) likely also apply. Others have conducted research framed in terms of "organismic specificity," which like "effective experience," suggests that the same event may have different effects on children who differ temperamentally (Wachs & Gruen, 1982). Wachs (1987), for example, found that for highly-active 12month-olds, parents' naming of objects was related to less mastery behavior, whereas the opposite relation held for low-active children. A high level of person traffic in the home was related to lower mastery behavior for "difficult" children, but not for "easy" ones. Concepts such as effective experience predict differences in outcome for children depending on particular combinations of parenting and temperament characteristics (that is, multiplicative or non-linear interaction effects). Bates (1989) comments that, in the interests of parsimony, the independent contributions of temperament and parenting to outcome (additive effects) should be assessed before addressing any interactive effects. This is a fair comment, but researchers, having found additive effects, have often not gone on to investigate potential multiplicative ones. In fact, both additive and multiplicative effects have been found. Findings of additive effects are of course also relevant to this discussion, because they demonstrate that parenting alone (or temperament alone) is not the sole predictor of the child outcome. Some theorists predict no additive effects. According to the model proposed by Reid and Patterson (1989) for antisocial behavior, no independent contribution of temperament would be expected. They posit parenting practices as the intervening variables between temperament and behavior. They suggest that temperament characteristics can disrupt parental discipline and monitoring of the child's behavior, but that discipline and monitoring are the proximal causes of antisocial behavior. Additive effects have nevertheless been found by several researchers. Bates and Bayles (1988) followed children from infancy to 6 years. By adding together 0 to 3 year temperament, maternal positive involvement (affection, teaching) and 3-year-old behavior problems they were able to strongly predict internalizing (anxious, fearful) and externalizing (acting out) behavior problems for both boys and girls at 6 years. Similarly, Cameron (1978) in analyzing NYLS data found that an index of difficultness and persistence at 1 year, along with poorer parenting at 3 years, predicted later behavior problems. Additive effects were also found by Fisher and Fagot (1992); here, toddler temperament and parental discipline practices were independently related to children's antisocial and coercive behavior at 5-7 years. In a Canadian longitudinal study, Maziade (1989) found evidence for both additive and multiplicative effects. Of those children who at 7 years had a "difficult" temperament and came from dysfunctional families (characterized by a lack of rule clarity, consistency, and parental consensus), most had oppositional disorders at 12 years. In contrast, almost none of the children with "difficult" temperament but superior family functioning had behavioral disorders. Maziade labeled this interactive effect "synergy." In contrast, at 4 years only additive effects of temperament and parenting on disorder had been found. A study by Martin (1981) of children followed from 10 to 42 months also found both additive and multiplicative effects for compliance and coerciveness at 42 months. For boys, the temperament-like characteristic of demandingness at 10 months and maternal responsiveness both contributed to later child compliance, but a multiplicative interaction of the two also affected outcome. For girls, only infant demandingness predicted (non)compliance. Coerciveness in boys resulted from additive effects of infant demandingness and maternal non-involvement at 10 months; these effects were not significant for girls. Thus, despite the somewhat scattered nature of the evidence, interactions of particular temperament characteristics with particular parenting do seem to affect behavioral outcome. Temperament and parenting have also been conceptualized as risk or protective factors for behavioral outcome, and have been shown to operate cumulatively. For example, prediction from infancy to 4-5 year externalizing behavior problems (hostile-aggressive and hyperactive-distractible) and internalizing behavior problems (anxious-fearful) was undertaken for over 1500 subjects from the
Running Head: TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING
ATP (Sanson et al., 1991c). Temperament on its own had little impact on outcome: The most "difficult" children, as assessed by an infant "easy-difficult" scale including approach-adaptability, cooperation-manageability and irritability, had only a slightly raised incidence of problems on the outcome measures compared to the remainder of the children. However, when difficult temperament occurred in a context reflecting poor mother-child relationship and presumably poor parenting style, the level of risk for behavioral problems increased substantially. Although other biological and environmental factors likely to affect parenting quality also contributed to cumulative risk, the combination of difficult temperament and poor mother-infant relationship was the most reliable risk indicator. This combination was also particularly characteristic of children who were described as hostile-aggressive at 7 to 8 years (Sanson et al., in press a). These findings are highly reminiscent of Sameroff and Chandler's (1975) construct of the "continuum of caretaking casualty," where infants identified at biological risk tended to show negative outcomes chiefly when caretaking was also deficient. In other studies, temperament has been conceptualized as a mediator affecting the relation between aspects of parenting and outcome (Rutter, 1987). For example, temperament has been seen as a resilience factor when there is a high level of psychosocial stress and parenting is poor (e.g., Werner, 1986; Werner & Smith 1982); in these situations, the sociable or adaptable child may be able to elicit more care and concern from parents and from significant others, who can act as mentors to protect the child from adverse outcomes. Temperament has been seen to be important in the divorce literature; Hetherington (Hetherington & Henderson, in this handbook; Hetherington, Stanley-Hagan, & Anderson, 1989) suggests that both temperament and parental warmth and control are important in determining a child's adjustment to marital transitions. Puckering (1989) posits positive aspects of temperament as a resilience factor for children with depressed mothers. These findings of additive effects for both parenting and temperament, and sometimes multiplicative effects, suggest that temperament cannot be seen as operating only through its effects of parenting. There seems to be strong evidence that combinations of temperament and parenting variables affect behavioral outcome. For both outcome variables examined here, attachment and behavior problems, there is thus substantial evidence for interactive processes posited under the concepts of goodness of fit, organismic specificity, and effective experience. However, the number of studies which have explicitly examined interactive effects is quite small, and we are still far from specifying precisely the particular configurations of temperament and parenting that constitute a "good fit" and optimize outcome. After a discussion of practical implications, future research directions are suggested.
IMPLICATIONS OF TEMPERAMENTAL VARIATION FOR PARENTING On the basis of the empirical evidence reviewed above, what can be said about implications of child temperament for parenting? Although answers to this question are necessarily speculative because of the incompleteness of the research literature, some tentative conclusions can be drawn in three areas: Parental attention to and respect for the child's individuality, parental structuring of the child's environment, and applications of the "difficult child" construct.
Attention to and Respect for Individuality An implication of taking children's individuality seriously is that it becomes more difficult to give any universal prescription for "good parenting," other than perhaps specifying the need for parental sensitivity and flexibility. Because children may differ in their responses to similar patterns of parenting, parents need to be attentive to temperament characteristics of their children, and to be able to adapt their parenting behaviors to them. This requires attention to the signals of the child concerning the child's state and needs. A goal of parenting may then be accomplished in one way for one child, and in a different way for another, depending on the child's temperament characteristics. Schaffer and Emerson (1964), for example, noted that babies who dislike being cuddled and resist mothers' attempts at close physical contact are often highly active. Tactile soothing is not comforting to these children. If mothers recognize this and substitute other more active forms of
Running Head: TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING
contact (e.g., play or distraction with toys) for cuddling, problems are less likely to result. Parents need to be able to "operationalize" their warmth, concern, and approaches to parenting goals in different ways, given the likely reaction of the child to the treatment. Sensitivity is also needed when parents attempt to modify nonadaptive or unacceptable behavior of the child. Some children will be highly sensitive to punishment; others will be so strongly driven by potential reward that self-control will be a problem. Some children will thus need extra encouragement; others will need help with limits and controls on behavior (Rothbart & Ahadi, in press). Another conclusion emerging from the literature is that some temperament characteristics pose more parenting challenges than others, at least in modern Western societies. Although infant crying and irritability may elicit more maternal contact, this contact often does not seem to be sustainable over time, and children's proneness to distress can contribute to the emergence of avoidant or negative, mutually coercive parent-child interactions. Van den Boom's (1989) study, however, shows that these influences can be countered with extra support and training for mothers of distress-prone infants. The importance of thoughtful socialization is thus enhanced rather than diminished when the child's temperament is taken into account. Prescriptions for good parenting are also dependent on goals, values, and assumptions about outcomes. Similar temperament characteristics (e.g., shyness, intensity, fussiness) may be reacted to differently in boys and girls. We suggested that these differences are likely to reflect parents' "ethnotheories" about sex differences and gender roles. Sociocultural variations in ethnotheories are likely, affecting characteristics seen as desirable and outcomes that are valued. In both of these cases, however, individuality of temperament should be a consideration, avoiding a tendency to try to fit all children, all girls, or all boys into a single mold. If a "surgent," outward-oriented disposition may be a more valued style in some cultures (e.g., the U.S.), this may not be the case in other cultures (e.g., China). Recognition of the legitimacy and value of multiple patterns of children's behavior is needed.
Structuring the Child's Environment
Temperament variation is also important when we take a broader perspective on parenting: not only in direct parent behavior toward the child but also in decisions made about daycare, timing of school entry, size and structure of school, kinds of extracurricular activities, and so forth. Although little research provides a direct guide to these decisions, Wachs's (1987; Wachs & Gandour, 1983) work suggests that crowded, noisy environments will pose greater problems for some children than for others. We might also expect that a fearful, withdrawing child would benefit from slower entry to new situations. Individual differences in attentional self-control should also guide decisions about the time to start school. Evidence of possible slower maturation of these attributes for boys is relevant to issues of school readiness.
"The Difficult Child" and Packaged Parenting Programs Manuals and courses on parenting abound, and community interventions have been directed toward improving parenting skills. How well can these efforts take individuality in child temperament into account? Any program giving prescriptions about "the right way to do it" will clearly be deficient if it does not also direct parents' attention to individuality and to the need to be flexible in their approach to childrearing. Some books and programs specifically focus on temperament; examples include Turecki and Tonner (1989) and Cameron, Hansen, and Rosen (1989). In these, there is a focus on "difficult" temperament. As noted above, some characteristics are often (but not invariably) a source of difficulty for parents in modern individualistic societies, and acknowledgement that some children are harder to parent is often helpful. Advice on how to handle particular "difficult" temperament characteristics can also be useful. Against these potential advantages however, there need to be weighted several disadvantages. All the previously-noted problems associated with concept of the "difficult child" apply here. As has been stressed, whether a particular characteristic is "difficult" depends on its fit with the environment, whereas the notion of "difficult temperament" implies that the problem lies in the child. To label a child as "difficult" also has the danger of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. The stability of
Running Head: TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING
temperament is quite low from infancy to later childhood, and moderate after infancy. If a child becomes identified as "difficult," this may in itself serve to maintain that status. Indeed, such labeling as "difficult" or "easy" may be one basis for the finding (Kagan et al., 1986; Sanson et al., 1991a) that extreme temperament characteristics are generally more stable than more moderate characteristics. Family systems theory stresses the importance of assigned roles within families; to be assigned the role of the "difficult child" may both intensify and maintain the expression of "difficult" characteristics. The notion of "difficult temperament" may also lead to the expectation that the parent's major efforts should be directed toward modifying the child's temperamental expressions, when there is instead an initial asymmetry in parent and child contributions to interactions (Rothbart, 1989a). Young infants react to their own internal states and to the immediate situation, including the caregiver's soothing and activating stimulation. Caregivers interpret the infant's emotional reactions as signals of the need for increasing, decreasing, or changing stimulation. Only at later ages can the child be expected to play a more active and anticipatory role in the interaction. Thus the initial responsibility for adaptation lies strongly with the parent. It is clear that their children's temperament should be an important focus for adults when considering their caregiving behavior. Although the research evidence to date does not allow for many highly specific recommendations, general principles of sensitivity to the individual characteristics of their child, flexibility in parenting behavior in response to these characteristics, and avoidance of negative labeling of the child are all important.
FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR RESEARCH Temperament is an important aspect of the child's contribution to the parent-child relationship, but our knowledge of parenting-temperament interactions is as yet incomplete. We now highlight areas where further understanding may be especially useful. We have noted above the difficulty of obtaining "clean" measures of both temperament and parenting before they start to influence each other. Parents have attitudes about parenting before the birth of their child, however, and although it is well known that the relationship between attitudes and behavior is far from perfect, these attitudes may give us hints about what parenting would be before it is affected by the child's individuality. Some researchers have shown that prenatally measured attitudes are related to postnatal temperament ratings (e.g., Heinecke, in this handbook; Vaughn, Bradley, Joffe-Lyle, & Seiffer, 1987). Others have indicated that values about parenthood remain relatively constant from the prenatal period to 5 months postnatally (Lamb et al., 1982). To address the question of parenting-temperament interactions, however, a central issue is whether parents modify their parenting attitudes and behavior once the child is born, and whether this is systematic for children with different temperament characteristics. We need to be asking questions like: You thought X about parenting before your child was born; do you still think so? Is this what you do? Does it work as you thought it would? There is little direct data on these questions. Observing several adults interacting with the same children, each differing in their temperament characteristics, may also inform our understanding of the "active" and "evocative" effects of temperament (Scarr & McCartney, 1983). Similarly, to investigate whether and how parenting affects expressions of temperament, we need evidence of change in temperament when parenting varies, or of mutual parenting-temperament changes. Van den Boom (1989), in both the observational and intervention phases of her study, provided a good model of the detailed fine-grained analysis needed to address these issues. Further work following her model of observation and experimental intervention, that might systematically address other aspects of temperament, other facets of parenting, and other child outcome variables among different age groups, would be most beneficial. The studies we have reviewed provide a strong case for the importance of third variables for the temperament-parenting relationship. We suggested that the concept of parental "ethnotheories" may provide a parsimonious explanation of many of the findings. Parents' underlying beliefs, values and expectations are likely to significantly affect their responses to children's individual
Running Head: TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING
characteristics, including whether parents respond to an irritable and inflexible child with efforts to find effective ways of soothing and managing the child, or by labeling the child as "difficult" or "bad." Little research attention has been directed to this issue. Another area where additional study of parenting-temperament interactions could be highly informative is in relation to gender. We noted that interactions between temperament and parenting often differed for boys and girls. Once again, parental ethnotheories may be involved, but another possibility is that actual differences in temperament between boys and girls may also be involved. In infancy, while gender differences in temperament are small (Prior, Smart, Sanson, & Oberklaid, 1993), boys have been found to have higher activity levels (Eaton & Enns, 1986). This, combined with the possibility of earlier language development among girls (Maccoby & Jacklin, 1974), may make girls on average more susceptible to early caregiving socialization than boys (Rothbart, 1989a). Activity level differences may also promote cycles of coercive interaction with some boys. There is opportunity for careful longitudinal work from infancy to address these questions. Current research has been somewhat more successful in identifying combined effects of temperament and parenting for behavioral and cognitive outcomes. Interactive effects occur, both additive and multiplicative. However, there is a need for more specificity here, moving from global measures of temperament such as "difficult," which confound several facets of temperament, to more specific dimensions (self-regulation, negative emotionality). Comparison with normative data is lacking in most studies, so that those classified as, for instance, "irritable" in one study are not necessarily comparable to those so labeled in another. Observations of parenting in extreme temperament groups may be a useful starting point, and studies need to be specifically designed to be able to detect both independent and interactive contributions of temperament and parenting dimensions. If any of the interactive models (goodness-of-fit, organismic specificity, and so forth) are to be taken seriously, we also need to consider the implications of temperament for broader aspects of parenting than have traditionally been the focus of research. As noted above, a somewhat neglected issue has been optimal childcare requirements for children with differing temperament (Bradley & Sanson, 1992). Wachs's (1993) work suggests that optimal levels of stimulation (both physical and social) can be defined for children with different temperament characteristics. The implications of such findings for the introduction of children to new settings, the size of social grouping, the age of entry, and their relevance for a wider age range than has so far been investigated, are all in need of research attention. The question of generalizability of results takes us back to "ethnotheories." It may be no accident that the current interest in temperament and parenting has arisen in individualistic Western cultures. In more collectivistic cultures, where individuals are defined by their relation to the group, temperamental variation among individuals may be of less relevance and salience than in more individualistic Western culture (Kitayama & Marcus, in press). The applicability of conclusions based on Western samples to other cultural groups thus also needs investigation. Finally, a research need that applies to all of the above areas is for investigation of temperament dimensions that are empirically and theoretically well-grounded. As indicated above, a limited number of temperament dimensions are emerging in the literature, and for some of these, biological underpinnings have been put forward. However, most of the research on temperament and parenting has used more diffuse and sometimes value-laden temperament dimensions such as "difficultness," limiting our ability to study the processes involved. For example, if there are differences among children in the strength of reward and punishment systems (Behavioral Activation and Behavioral Inhibition systems), and also in the maturation of their attentional control systems, one could expect the same parenting behavior to have predictably different effects on different children (Kochanska, 1991, 1993; Kochanska et al., 1993; Rothbart & Ahadi, in press; Rothbart et al., 1993). For some children, parents' low-level punishment attempts may not work, so parents may escalate their punishment in their effort to gain child compliance, thus setting the scene for the development of coercive parent-child cycles of interaction. Research focusing upon basic levels of temperamental variation, especially along the lines developed by van den
Running Head: TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING
Boom (1989, in press) and Kochanska (1991, 1993) holds great promise for increasing our understanding of temperament and parenting.
GENERAL CONCLUSIONS A child's temperament is apparent from early infancy, and is an important influence on individual differences among older children. Variations in reactivity and self-regulation are related to characteristic patterns of positive and negative emotionality, sociability, and attentional persistence for each child. These patterns are fairly stable over time but by no means immutable. They have an impact on 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 consideration in choosing strategies to soothe, control and stimulate their child, and in arranging the overall childrearing environment. Guidance can be drawn from analyses of the effects on child outcome of particular combinations of parent behavior and child temperament. Parental handling can lead to positive outcomes even for children extreme in temperament. For instance, van den Boom's (in press) study has shown us how maternal training in dealing with irritable infants can lead to improved cognitive, social and emotional outcomes for these infants. Similarly, studies by Wachs and his colleagues (e.g., Wachs, 1987) reveal how different levels of social and environmental stimulation appear to be optimal for children with differing temperament profiles. More adaptable, sociable and persistent children may also cope with stressful life events such as parental divorce better than those with other profiles, presumably partly because they are better able to elicit support from adults around them. It may thus require special efforts to provide support to children with less positive profiles when they encounter stressful events. We have suggested that some of the consequences of taking temperament into account might be to adapt parenting behavior and the child's environment to provide as good a "fit" to the child's temperament as possible, while at the same time encouraging the child's adaptations to situations; to recognize that, while a child's temperament is not immutable, changes over time are unlikely to be dramatic; and to avoid value judgments about these individual differences. Even though it may be recognized that in a given social and cultural context some children take more effort to parent, there is nothing inherently inferior about these children, nor are temperament characteristics the result of "naughtiness." In sum, the concept of temperament directs our attention to important aspects of child individuality that must be considered in parenting. It has long been recognized that appropriate parenting depends on the age of the child; the child's temperament characteristics also determine what is appropriate. Even if this recognition complicates both the task of the parent and that of the researcher, such complication is unavoidable. The task then for the parent and the practitioner is to foster "respect for the individuality and integrity of each child, and flexibility in creating environments that may lead to positive outcomes for them and for us" (Rothbart, 1989a, p. 236).
Running Head: TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Preparation of this chapter was supported in part by National Institutes of Mental Health Grant MH43361 to the second author. The authors wish to thank S. Ahadi, M. Prior and M. Rothbart for their generous help on a previous version of the chapter. Direct inquiries to Ann Sanson, Department of Psychology, School of Behavioural Science, University of Melbourne, Parkville 3052, Australia, or Mary K. Rothbart, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403.
Running Head: TEMPERAMENT AND PARENTING
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