Observations of Parent-Child Interactions and Temperament

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Observations of Parent-Child Interactions and Temperament

Psychology 223

January 23, 2013
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Temperament is defined as the features of your personality that are present at birth and have a genetic/biological basis. Your temperament, or basic disposition, interacts with environmental influences to create your personality (Salters-Pedneault, 2010). Temperament is a behavioral style that shows the how of behavior, rather than the what or why. Temperamental differences are present at birth; they influence how children behave toward individuals and objects in their environments and how they are affected by the environment (Behavioral-Development Initiatives, 1996-2012). Temperament originates in genes and prenatal development and is affected by early experiences (Berger, 2011, p. 183).

Parenting is a mutual process where the parent influences the child’s development, and in return, the child influences the parent. However, parents differ on how to raise children. The nine temperaments suggested by Thomas and Chess, have been grouped into three basic classifications of children: easy children, difficult children, and slow-to-warm-up children. Easy children usually have positive moods and approaches to new situations. They adapt quite well to change. Easy children are somewhat predictable in their sleeping, eating, and elimination patterns. Difficult children tend to have irregular sleeping, eating, and elimination patterns. They often experience negative moods and withdraw from things which are new. Difficult children are slow or non-adaptive to change. Slow-to-warm-up children may react to new situations in a negative but mild manner. They are low in activity levels and tend to withdraw in new situations. These children are more likely to warm up when approached in a way which respects their temperament traits (Culpepper, 2008). Our temperament and style of parenting used while being reared can ultimately determine how we do or do not handle stressful circumstances later in life. Long term consequences of temperamental disposition into adulthood can be traced back to the different styles of parenting and how a child’s temperamental behaviors are addressed. The four different styles of parenting established by Diana Baumrind along with Maccoby & Martin include authoritarian, authoritative, permissive and uninvolved (Cherry, 2013). Authoritarian parents enforce children to follow strict rules without explanation or reason. These parents have high demands of their children and when the child does not meet their parents’ expectations, instead of being nurturing to the child tend to give harsh punishments. Authoritative parenting style differs by establishing rules and being willing to listen and provide explanations to questions asked by the child. They are also very nurturing and forgiving of their children’s conduct. The authoritative approach promotes assertiveness and responsibility within their child. Permissive parents make few demands or expectations of their children. This style of parenting enforces no discipline but is still nurturing of the child. Uninvolved parents lack discipline and tend to be emotionally unavailable to their children.

According to Thomas and Chess, the key to good parenting is to follow the goodness-of-fit model. The goodness-of-fit model states that the quality of a similarity of temperament and values that produces a smooth interaction between an individual and his/her social context, including family, school, and community (Berger, 2011, p. 185). Three scenarios of parent and child interactions have been observed and will be correlated to the goodness-of-fit model and style of parenting.

First scenario observed took place at McDonalds. A mother and her daughter ordered their food from the counter and once they completed ordering, they proceeded to the drink station. The younger girl was asking her mother questions pertaining...
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