Introduction to Human Development: Social-Emotional Perspective - Part 1 Through this perspective we look at the how social influences and emotions shape our development, with a focus on the way we behave. From very soon after we’re born it becomes clear that we have an identifiable temperament. Most first-time parents probably think their constantly crying baby is going to grow up to be a disagreeable little… Well, thankfully they’re usually wrong.
Temperament has many definitions, though it can be summarised as stable, individual differences in the quality and intensity of emotional reactions. Your temperament forms the base of your personality and is one set of traits which is much more influenced by your genes than by the environment.
Temperament is described by (and often measured according to) terms such as sociability, adaptability, persistence, activity level, and reactivity. Many studies have been done on temperament but I have to mention one particular Australian study, funnily enough called the Australian Temperament Project. It’s a long term and on-going study which began in 1982, and is continuing to follow around 2000 people born around that time, aiming to investigate “the influence of an individual’s temperament on his/her emotional and behavioural adjustment.”
That and other studies have produced some significant findings, not the least of which is to highlight just how important it is that parents interact with children in a way which is appropriate to the various aspects of the child’s temperament. There is no “one size fits all” method of raising children. For example, a highly reactive (very sensitive to all kinds of stimulation) and easily distracted child would require a different approach to a highly reactive but persistent child. This seems like common sense, but shows like Super Nanny show us that if it is common sense, some parents don’t have any.
The ATP study showed that highly reactive adolescents who had a...
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