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Children s temperament: How it affects relationships and readiness for learning

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    1. Childrens temperament: How it affects relationships and readiness for learning Professor Ann Sanson Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne Coordinator, Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) ARC/NHMRC Research Network Principal Scientific Advisor, Growing Up in Australia (LSAC) Hume Early Years Conference How do you grow a community for children? 25th-26th June 2008, Hume Global Learning Centre, Broadmeadows

    3. What is temperament? History from ancient Greeks to 20th century Philosophy paradigm shift Psychology nature and components of temperament Culture and context goodness of fit

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    5. What is temperament? History from ancient Greeks to 20th century Philosophy paradigm shift Psychology nature and components of temperament Culture and context goodness of fit

    6. (How) does temperament matter? In our research, for almost all later outcomes: some of the origins are in early childhood, and some of this is temperament How? Direct effects Indirect effects Interactive effects

    7. The Australian Temperament Project http://www.aifs.gov.au/atp

    8. ATP: Early childhood findings 3-4 years aggressive behaviour, hyperactivity and anxiety/fear: Infant temperament was weak predictor on its own When combined with 2-4 other risk factors (e.g. prematurity, mother-child relationship, low SES, male gender), strong predictor cumulative risk Children with persistent behaviour problems from 3 to 8 years: More likely to have difficult temperament from early childhood And more stressed mothers with less social support Gender differences few in infancy, increase over time Boys more active, less persistent Reactivity and non-persistence strong predictors for boys Other factors (parent-child relationships, parenting) also important for girls

    9. ATP: Middle childhood Reading problems poor attention regulation only for those also with behaviour problems (Margot Prior) Problem peer relationships at 11-12 years More irritable, reactive at 1-3 years; early behav probs Shy children who lose their shyness (Warren Cann, PRC) Warm parents, less control thru guilt and anxiety, fewer expectations of autonomy Social competence persistence and negative reactivity Resilient children in high-stressed families: easy-going, positive temperament (Jan Smith) Emotional control, persistence

    10. Temperament and school Temperament is related to: Transition to school School achievement Response to instructional methods Teacher-child relationships Peer relationships Classroom behaviour

    11. ATP: Adolescent findings Poly-substance users at 15-16 years (2+ of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, sniffing, hard drugs) Infancy - less rhythmic Toddler - les persistent; less cooperative; more active School age - more aggressive; more inflexible Early adolescence as above; and poorer school and parent relationships; delinquent behaviour; deviant peers Temperament leads to difficulties in family, school, and community life early steps on path to later substance abuse risks operate cumulatively prevention starts in childhood but pathways stay open to change

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    14. Other evidence of parenting temperament interactions Conscience development in preschoolers (Eisenberg): For fearful toddlers gentle maternal discipline For fearless toddlers firmer discipline, attachment security and responsiveness Acting-out at 4 years (Sanson & Hemphill): For high reactive toddlers - low parental warmth, high punishment or low inductive reasoning For uninhibited toddlers more punishment Depression at 15 years (Finnish study): Low maternal role satisfaction and difficult child (high active, low sociable, high neg. emotionality) at 6 yrs -> hostile parenting (emotional rejection, strict) at 9 yrs -> depression

    15. Temperament-based interventions Irritable infants (van den Boom) low SES mothers with irritable infants received brief, individualized intervention to promote maternal responsiveness and decrease intrusiveness and uninvolvement improved maternal responsiveness and stimulation; child sociability, exploratory behaviour; quality of attachment at 1 and 3.5 years Highly withdrawn children (Ron Rapee) Parent training led to less anxiety at 1 year follow-up (but no change in temperament) Acting out in primary school children (McClowry) INSIGHTS: school based program for parents and teachers temperament-based strategies to reduce behaviour problems Fewer behaviour problems at home (esp if initially high on ADHD, ODD, CD) less aggressive behaviour and inattention for boys at school

    16. What should we do as parents, carers, teachers and service-providers? Attend to child individuality - not as easy or difficult but as different Aim for a good fit Take whole person perspective: temperament, social behaviour and cognitive development are closely linked; comorbidity is high Be aware of how children push our buttons - avoid coercive or negative cycles of interaction, overprotectiveness, etc. Promote early intervention: target attention- and emotion- regulation

    17. Australian Temperament Project: Some learnings Differences in childrens temperament matter for their development The early years of life matter, but so do later periods Pathways can start early but remain open to change - prevention and early intervention, but not only early The reality of resilience - change is possible and common dont despair! Interdependence between aspects of a childs life need for a holistic perspective Most do well - expect well . But around 25% have adjustment difficulties Many problems co-occur and multiplicity of influences SO: multi-modal interventions - roles for parents, schools, communities Multiplicity of pathways - many roads to Rome Close ties with policy and practice are needed to ensure uptake of findings And: longitudinal studies are worth the effort

    18. Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children A valuable new resource

    19. Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth ARACY is a broker of collaborations, a disseminator of ideas and an advocate for Australias future generation

    20. ARACY ARC/NHMRC Research Network: Future Generation - Some Initiatives Seed-funding of innovative collaborations bringing together researchers, policy makers and practitioners New Investigators Network building capacity of talented early career researchers in interdisciplinary research and knowledge translation Knowledge-brokering - evidence into action Prevention science evidence-based approach Longitudinal studies - making better use of existing data sources Access grid seminars http://www.aracy.org.au/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Network

    21. 2020: Ambitions and Goals of Strengthening Communities, Stronger Families and Social Inclusion stream By 2020, Australia is known throughout the world for its diverse, compassionate, fair and respectful society. By 2020, every Australian: is valued by, and participating in, society has meaningful access to education, work, health, housing, justice, care and life opportunities has a safe, healthy and supported childhood that allows them to fulfil their potential By 2020, Australian society embraces and celebrates indigenous people focuses on long-term prevention and is experiencing the benefits of a return on social investment regards social inclusion as equal and integral to a buoyant economy and a healthy environment