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Temperament - Stability And Development Of Temperament

age children predicted control

Looking at children's temperament across time and development, seven-year-old temperament has been predicted by laboratory measures of fear, anger, and positive affect/surgency in infancy (Rothbart, Derryberry, and Hershey 2000), although attention showed little stability from infancy. This is probably related to the relatively later development of the executive attention system. As this system develops, the child's thoughts, emotions, and behaviors can come increasingly under self-control (Posner and Rothbart 1998). By the age of four, children's ability to delay going after a reward predicts higher achievement and greater emotional control in adolescence. Avshalom Caspi and Phil Silva (1995) found that children who were high on approach or confidence at three to four were also more impulsive at age eighteen, and higher on social potency, that is, taking charge of situations. More fearful children at age three to four were later higher on harm avoidance (avoidance of danger), lower on aggression, and lower on social potency. Children's distress proneness, when combined with lack of attentional control at three to four years, predicted higher distress tendencies at age eighteen.

The same longitudinal study (Caspi et al. 1995) predicted behavior problems at age fifteen from behavior at three to five years. Preschool approach predicted later lower anxiety and withdrawal in boys, and preschool distress combined with lack of attentional control predicted problems such as impulsivity and aggression, in both boys and girls. A number of links have now been identified between temperament and the development of psychopathology (see review by Rothbart and Bates 1998), as well as between temperament and health status, including adolescent substance use (Wills et al. 2002).

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