Development is a multi-faceted process concerned with the pattern of normal development as well as individual differences in development. There are various inborn qualities that distinguish infants from each other, one of which is temperament. This paper will explore temperament, its definition, the ways in which it can be classified and measured as well as the implications of temperamental variations for parenting. Empirical research and theories of four different approaches to temperament will be discussed paying attention to different methodologies employed in addition to implications for the nature/nurture debate. Finally, this paper will examine the notion of goodness of fit and the transactional model of development focusing on the relationship between children's temperament and their early development.
[...] We will now examine some of the diverse methods used by different theoretical approaches to measure temperament however measurement of temperament can be problematic as it cannot be directly observed. Nonetheless researchers have used several measures including questionnaires, interviews with parents, observations and as well as physiological measures. Thomas and Chess (1977) carried out the first longitudinal studies on temperament in which they relied on parents as observers of their children's behavior. The criticism leveled at this research is that parents inevitably introduce biases into measurement due to the possibility of reporting socially desirable or expected behavior rather than the child's actual behavior. [...]
[...] The case studies of Chris, Clarissa and Mary clearly illustrate how important it is that parents have as a top priority the nurturance of a goodness of fit in their relationship with their children. As far as the transactional model is concerned two things are very clear: children affect their environments and environments affect children. Despite the fact that there is much debate regarding the number and range of temperamental traits, three broad areas of behavior: emotional response, attention orientation patterns and motor activity have been identified and generally agreed upon (Bates, 1989) Nonetheless, based on the evidence cited, it is clear that no one theory covers every aspect of temperament. [...]
[...] The incompatibility between the Marys temperament and her father's expectations was expressed by Mary through frequent regurgitation thus highlighting the notion that a child's temperamental style is in part determined by the fit between his or her temperament and that of his or her primary carers. Other case studies demonstrate the important role that parents play in their infant's development. In particular, the case study of Chris carried out by Brazelton and Cramer (1991) illustrates how the guidance and support of specialists can help to bring about positive intervention between infant and parent and thus help prevent the possibility of negative long-term consequences. [...]
[...] The category of difficult temperament has been the subject of much debate regarding the influence of parental perceptions of the child's temperament however Lerner (1989) as well as Thomas and Chess (1977) argue that while children may be born difficult or shy, if parents accommodate to the child's style and develop a goodness of fit between their expectations and behaviors and the child's temperament, it is possible to create an environment that will allow the child to grow and develop. [...]
[...] The third and last type of correlation is an active gene-environment correlation which arises when the child actively seeks out environments that suit its own temperamental style. This theory in its specific referral to a correlation between genetic make-up and the environment highlights once again the important role of both nature and nurture on development. Conclusion Thus far the general concept of temperament has been examined. Particular attention has been paid to the phenomena that are considered to be temperament and the methods used to measure them. Four theoretical approaches to temperament have been explored highlighting their strengths and limitations. [...]
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