The Creation of Temperament

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Citing evidence on inhibited or shy children, or uninhibited or sociable children, show how biology, parenting practices and culture jointly influence the development of temperament.

Temperament refers to an individual¡¦s behavioural style and characteristic way of emotionally responding. Emotional responses to similar situations vary among infants. One infant might be cheerful and happy much of the time, while another baby might cry a lot more an often display a negative mood.

There are three was of describing and classifying temperament (Chess and Thomas 1977, 1991). These include „h Easy Child. This child is generally in a positive mood, quickly establishes regular routine in infancy and adapts easily to new experiences. „h Difficult Child. This child reacts negatively and cries frequently, engages in irregular daily routines and is slow to accept change. „h Slow-to-warm-up child. This child has a low activity level, is somewhat negative and displays a low intensity of mood.

Another way of classifying temperament focuses on the differences between a shy, subdued, timid child and a sociable, extraverted, bold child. Jerome Kagan regards shyness with strangers as one feature of a broad temperament category called inhibition, which is similar to the ¡§slow-to-warm-up child¡¨. Inhibited children react to many aspects of unfamiliarity with initial avoidance or distress, especially beginning about 7 to 9 months of age. Kagan has found that inhibition shows considerable stability from infancy through early childhood. One recent study (Pfeifer & others, 2002), classified toddlers into extremely inhibited, extremely uninhibited, and intermediate groups. Follow up assessments occurred at 4 and 7 years of age. Continuity was demonstrated for both inhibition and lack of inhibition, although a substantial number of children moved into the intermediate groups at 7 years of age.

Many factors are thought to jointly influence the development of the temperament of a...
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