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Temperament-Based Intervention: Re-examining Goodness of Fit

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The purpose of this paper is to discuss how recent advances in the temperament field have contributed to the scientific foundation of temperament-based intervention. A presentation of the historical origins of temperament-based intervention is followed by examples of recent studies that add to its empirical support. Guidelines for developing and adapting temperament-based interventions are offered. The goodness of fit model, frequently used as a basis for temperament-based intervention, is re-examined through the lens of self-regulation.
Temperament-Based Intervention: Re-examining Goodness of Fit
Sandra Graham McClowry, Eileen T. Rodriguez, and Robyn Koslowitz
New York University, USA
The purpose of this paper is to discuss how recent advances in the temperament field have contributed
to the scientific foundation of temperament-based intervention. A presentation of the historical
origins of temperament-based intervention is followed by examples of recent studies that add to its
empirical support. Guidelines for developing and adapting temperament-based interventions are
offered. The goodness of fit model, frequently used as a basis for temperament-based intervention,
is re-examined through the lens of self-regulation.
temperament; intervention; Goodness of Fit
Beginning prenatally and continuing throughout the lifespan, humans react to their experiences
with a vast array of physiological, emotional, and behavioral responses. Every year, hundreds
of published manuscripts describe how individual differences relate to a myriad of outcomes.
The names of the constructs describing the individual attributes vary considerably across
theorists. Block (1995) referred to this phenomenon as the jingling and jangling fallacy.
Jingling is when the same term has multiple meanings; jangling refers to different terms that
have the same definition. The literatures on individual differences are replete with jingling and
jangling. For example, the constructs of temperament and personality are viewed by some
researchers as one and the same (Halverson, Havill, Deal, Baker, Victor, & Pavlopoulous et
al, 2003) while others contend they are conceptually different (Kagan, 1994). In this paper,
temperament and personality are used interchangeably as constructs that explain the nearly
endless, yet fascinating permutations humans experience and exhibit.
Regardless of the complexities inherent in the sometimes overlapping, other times disparate,
lexicon of individual differences, elegant models of intervention can be developed when
individual differences—whether labeled temperament or personality—are incorporated into
treatment protocols. Perceptive, responsive practitioners recognize that a powerful way to
connect with a client is to recognize his or her unique qualities. Treatment strategies can then
be tailored to his or her temperament. In 1998, McClowry reviewed the science and art of using
temperament as the basis for intervention. She offered a classification system for conducting
temperament-based intervention but concluded that such programs were still in their early
development. After a brief review of its origins, this paper will discuss how findings from
temperament research over the last ten years have advanced temperament-based intervention.
Recent descriptive studies will be presented to illustrate how they can inform practitioners who
Address for correspondence: Sandra Graham McClowry, New York University, Applied Psychology and Teaching & Learning, 239
Greene Street, 406, New York, New York 10003. Office: 212 998-5297, Fax: 212 995-3143,
Reprinted from McClowry, S. G., Snow, D. L, & Tamis-LeMonda, C. S. (2005). An evaluation of the effects of INSIGHTS on the
behavior of inner-city primary school children. Journal of Primary Prevention, 26, 567-584 with kind permission from Springer Science
and Business Media.
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Published in final edited form as:
Eur J Dev Sci. 2008 June ; 2(1-2): 120–135.
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are planning or conducting temperament-based interventions. Reports on the efficacy of
temperament-based interventions will be followed by guidelines for developing and culturally
adapting such programs. Finally, goodness of fit will be re-examined based on an emerging
central construct within the temperament field: self-regulation.
Historical Origins of Temperament-Based Intervention
No discussion of temperament-based intervention would be complete without acknowledging
the pioneering work of Stella Chess and Alexander Thomas. As practicing psychiatrists in the
early 1950s, Chess and Thomas (1984) were struck by the amount of blame mothers received
for their children’s misbehavior. Contrary to behaviorist and psychoanalytic theories which
dominated the psychology field at the time, Chess and Thomas observed that children,
beginning in infancy, exhibited what they originally referred to as primary reaction patterns.
In 1956, Chess and Thomas and their colleagues began the New York Longitudinal Study
(NYLS) to explore how temperament, as they later called the construct, influenced the
adjustment of the 138 infants who comprised their sample (Chess, Thomas, Rutter, & Birch,
1963). The results of the study provided a groundbreaking reinterpretation of human
development. Although parenting skills were important contributors to children’s later
adjustment, the temperament of the child also played a significant role. Some children were
temperamentally easy and adjusted quickly to the changes encountered in their daily lives.
Others had temperaments that Chess and Thomas characterized as “difficult.” They exhibited
negative reactions to even minor events. Still other children were initially slow to warm,
demonstrating unease when encountering new people or situations.
Chess and Thomas were among the first researchers to credit children as contributors to their
own development—not as passive recipients of caregiving. They described how bi-directional
transactions between children and their parents influenced each other’s behavior. The
interaction between the child’s temperament and the environment was conceptualized within
a “goodness of fit” framework. According to Chess and Thomas (1999, pp. 3) “goodness of fit
results when the properties of the environment and its expectations and demands are in accord
with the organism’s own capacities, characteristics, and style of behaving.” If there is a match
between an individual’s temperament and the environment, optimal development can be
achieved. Conversely, poorness of fit leads to maladaptative functioning. They also asserted
that when assessing goodness of fit, consideration must be given to the values and demands of
an individual’s culture and socioeconomic group.
The goodness of fit model continues to influence temperament-based intervention today. It
provides practitioners with a framework for assessing individuals within their specific
environmental context. Such an approach is both intuitively appealing and practical for
developing strategies to resolve temperament/environment mismatches. Empirically
demonstrating the efficacy of such interventions, however, is complicated by its highly
individualized approach. Undaunted, practitioners and researchers have made progress over
the last decade in demonstrating its utility and efficacy.
Recent Advances in Temperament Research: Implications for Intervention
The contemporary temperament field is an international amalgam of researchers and
practitioners across many disciplines. Although most temperament researchers are not
interventionists, the studies they conduct lay the scientific foundation for temperament-based
interventions. While an exhaustive review of recent studies is beyond the scope of this paper,
examples will be presented to illustrate how such studies can inform temperament-based
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Many temperament studies identify how specific types of temperament may be a risk or a
protective factor (Institute of Medicine [IOM], 1994). For example, Schwebel and Plumert
(1999) found that toddlers and preschool children who were high on extraversion and low on
inhibitory control overestimated their physical abilities and had more unintentional injuries in
the primary grades. In another study, adolescents with conduct disorders demonstrated
temperaments that were high in novelty seeking and low in harm avoidance (Schmeck &
Poustka, 2001). Together, these results demonstrate that physical safety, is a clinical issue for
individuals with such temperaments. The type of temperament-based intervention strategies
that would be derived from the studies, however, differs. Based on the results of Schwebel and.
Plumert (1999), preventive intervention focusing on parental guidance would be appropriate.
The findings from the latter study suggest a temperament-based treatment given the behavioral
problems are at a diagnostic level. Intervention, in this situation, should engage adolescents as
well as their parents.
Other studies describe temperaments that function as protective factors and are associated with
positive outcomes. Consistently, children and adolescents with high task orientation have been
shown to demonstrate high academic achievement and enhanced social skills (Bramlett, Scott,
& Rowell, 2000; Guerin, Gottfried, Oliver, & Thomas, 1994; Keogh, 2003; Smart, Vassallao,
Sanson, Richardson, Dussuyer, & McKendry, 2003). No single temperament, including one
that is high in task orientation, however, is ideal in every situation (McClowry, 2003). For
instance, individuals who are high in task orientation may have perfectionist tendencies that
can compromise their flexibility and spontaneity. Appropriate temperament-based intervention
for such individuals falls into the health promotion category and focuses on enhancing well-
being (IOM, 1994). Intervention might include techniques to better manage life stressors and
gaining acceptance that not everything needs to be perfect.
The direct role of temperament as a risk or protective factor is eclipsed by its transactions within
the environment. One of the most impressive developments over the last 10 years is the
dramatic increase in studies that elucidate temperament and environment interactions (Rothbart
& Bates, 2006). Such studies illustrate how temperament moderates or mediates environmental
conditions, thus shedding light on the ways in which goodness of fit operates in the real world.
For example, a number of studies with diverse methodologies have demonstrated how parental
hostility and child negative reactivity relate to child maladjustment. In a cross-sectional study,
children high in negative reactivity were likely to demonstrate externalizing behavior problems
if their mothers also were high in hostility (Morris, Silk, Steinberg, Sessa, Avenevoli, & Essex,
2002). In a longitudinal study by Lenguna and Kovacs (2005), bi-directional interactions based
on self-reports between children and their parents were examined during middle childhood.
Child negative emotionality evoked inconsistent parent discipline. In turn, inconsistent
parenting increased child negative emotionality. The same pattern of bi-directional negative
transactions has also been observed in a laboratory setting (Braungart-Reiker, Garwood, &
Stifter, 1997) and was shown to operate intergenerationally (Scaramella & Conger, 2003).
Practitioners can use such findings to assist parents of children that are high in negative
emotionality to identify their own response patterns. Temperament-based management
strategies that defuse rather than escalate the transactions between the parent and child can
then be taught.
During the last 10 years, many temperament-related factors and transactional processes have
been subsumed under the umbrella of self-regulation—albeit with its own jingling and jangling.
Relevant across the life-span, self-regulation is generally regarded as the ability to accomplish
goals by moderating one’s emotional, attentional, and behavioral responses to events (Posner
& Rothbart, 2000). The mechanisms that influence the development of self-regulation are
complex and include the child’s temperament in transaction with the environment. Infants are
dependent on parents and other caregivers for external regulation. By the time children are two
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years old, however, most begin to exert effortful control (Kochanska & Aksan, 2006). Rather
than react impulsively, they willfully delay gratification and engage in planning (Posner &
Rothbart, 2000). Simultaneously, another inhibitory component, fearfulness, contributes to the
development of self-regulation; however, compared to effortful control, its processes are less
intentional and more reactive.
Based on the empirical literature, it would appear that self-regulation can be influenced by the
environment (Kochanska & Aksan, 2006; Rothbart & Bates, 2006). Positive parental support
has been shown to relate to children’s self-regulation at home (Collins, Madsen, & Susman-
Stillman, 2002; Kopp, 1989) and in the classroom (Eisenberg, Fabes, Guthrie, Murphy, Maszk,
Holmgren, et al., 1996; Rodriguez, Ayduk, Aber, Mischel, Sethi & Shoda, 2005). In contrast,
maternal punitive reactions have been linked to poor self-regulation in children (Eisenberg et
al., 1999; Kochanska & Aksan, 2006).
The conclusion that self-regulation can be altered by the environment is largely derived from
cross-sectional, correlational studies. Although a limited amount of longitudinal studies have
attempted to examine the environmental processes that contribute to the development of self-
regulation, definitive conclusions regarding causal relationships require experimental designs
(Shadish, Cook, & Campbell, 2002). A major limitation of the temperament field is the dearth
of experimental-studies that exist. This criticism is even more pertinent in relation to
temperament-based interventions, whose very credibility and utility necessitates experimental
Temperament-Based Intervention: Empirical Support
Only a few examples of such temperament-based experiments have been reported recently.
The studies vary considerably in their targeted participants and intended outcomes. Franyo and
Hyson (1999) tested the effectiveness of a training workshop for preschool day care providers.
They randomly assigned 30 day care centers from a variety of communities in the Northeast
United States to one of three conditions: a three-hour workshop on temperament concepts with
activities adapted from The Program for Infant/Toddler Caregivers (Far West Laboratory,
1993), a wait-list condition, or a control group. The 229 caregivers were tested on their
knowledge of temperament concepts and acceptance of children’s feelings and behaviors prior
to attending the workshop and, again, afterwards. Those who received the intervention
demonstrated a significant increase in their knowledge about temperament at post-test. There
were, however, no changes in their acceptance of the children’s feelings and behaviors, which
may be attributed to the short duration of the intervention.
In another early intervention program, parents of 146 preschool children whose temperament
was high in withdrawal were randomly assigned to a parent education program or to a control
group that received no treatment (Rapee, Kennedy, Ingram, Edwards, & Sweeney, 2005). The
education program was conducted with groups of six sets of parents with mothers as the primary
attendees. The intervention was conducted by a clinical psychologist in six 90-minute sessions.
The content of sessions included the nature of anxiety, principles of parent-management
techniques, cognitive restructuring, and anticipation of high-risk periods. Anxiety disorders
were significantly reduced at one year follow-up in children whose mothers were in the
intervention as compared to those in the control group. The children’s temperamental tendency
to withdraw, however, remained the same.
School-age children were the focus of another-prevention study. INSIGHTS into Children’s
Temperament, is a comprehensive intervention that teaches parents and teachers how to use
temperament-based strategies to reduce the behavior problems of school-age children
(McClowry, 2003). The program also assists teachers and parents in enhancing goodness of
fit by replacing negative patterns of interaction with more responsive and effective child
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management strategies that are matched to specific types of temperaments. The intervention
consists of 10 workshop sessions for the parents and teachers as summarized in Appendix A.
Puppets, representing the four temperament profiles identified by McClowry (2002), are used
in classroom sessions to enhance children’s empathy and problem-solving skills. For a more
detailed description of the intervention, see McClowry, Snow, and Tamis-LeMonda (2005).
The efficacy of INSIGHTS was tested in a prevention trial with 145 inner-city primary grade
children and their parents and teachers (McClowry et al., 2005). The behavior of children who
participated in INSIGHTS was compared to a sociode-mographically similar group of children
who received a one-hour after-school Read Aloud program. The INSIGHTS intervention was
more effective than the Read Aloud attention control condition in reducing children’s behavior
problems at home. The program showed even greater efficacy among children (none of whom
were receiving medication) who were at diagnostic levels of three disruptive disorders:
attention deficit with hyperactivity, oppositional, and conduct.
The efficacy of the program in enhancing classroom management also was examined
(McClowry, Snow, Tamis-LeMonda, & Rodriguez, 2007). Boys who participated in
INSIGHTS showed a significant decline in aggressive and inattentive classroom behaviors as
compared to those in the Read Aloud program. In addition, as compared to teachers whose
students were in the Read Aloud program, teachers in INSIGHTS reported significantly less
difficulty dealing with boys’ classroom problem behaviors, particularly in relation to
oppositional, inattentive, and conduct problems. The teachers also perceived their male
students as significantly more cognitively and physically competent.
Self-regulation in early adulthood has been the focus of inquiry in a series of laboratory
experiments (Baumeister, Gailliot, DeWall, & Oaten, 2006) which examined college students’
self-regulation in relation to physical exercise, money management, and study habits. Overall,
these experiments supported that self-regulation could be enhanced through intervention and
practice. However, self-regulation which relied on limited mental energy resources was
vulnerable to depletion.
Temperament also has been found to moderate other types of intervention. In one study, self-
directedness moderated the responses of patients who received cognitive behavior therapy for
bulimia nervosa (Bulik, Sullivan, Joyce, Carter, & McIntosh, 1998). Based on their results in
treating distressed couples, Barelds and Barelds-Dijkstra (2006) advised teaching dyads how
to accept each others personality. The clinical applicability of temperament-related
intervention has been noted by other researchers as well (Bulik et al., 1998, Lochman, 2004;
Trobst, Herst, Master, & Costa, 2002).
Developing and Adapting Temperament-Based Intervention
Temperament-based intervention can be delivered in a number of creative ways. One of the
first decisions a practitioner must make is in regard to the scope of practice. Some temperament
practitioners focus on a specific typology, such as highly sensitive individuals (Aron, 1997)
or difficult children (Tureki & Tonner, 1999). Others offer guidance across the continuum of
temperaments (Carey & McDevitt, 1995). Another possibility is to begin with a particular
outcome such as academic achievement and link it to temperament (Keogh, 2003).
Like all educational and treatment modalities, temperament-based interventions should be
grounded in the relevant literature. As evident in this issue, multiple temperament/personality
frameworks currently exist. Wading through the various conceptualizations and definitions
that exist in the literature is a demanding yet important step. Some practitioners (Kristal,
2005; Kurcinka, 2006) are drawn to Chess and Thomas’ conceptualization because it is
grounded in clinical practice and lends itself to practical applications. An alternative approach
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is to synthesize what is known across temperament perspectives. In either case, the relevant,
supporting literatures should be incorporated into the empirical conceptualization of a
temperament-based intervention. For example, programs designed to prevent or treat behavior
problems should integrate findings that explain how disruptive disorders develop and progress
(e.g., IOM, 1994; Patterson, Reid, & Dishion, 1992).
Among the possibilities for conducting temperament-based intervention is integrating
strategies to enhance goodness of fit for individuals, parent/child dyads, or couples, In such
instances, the practitioner can assist clients in understanding their own temperaments and that
of others in their life. Building on such insights, clients can reframe their perceptions and
implement strategies to change interactions or environmental circumstances.
Structured programs for groups are another possibility. Workshops are excellent vehicles for
intervening with parents, teachers or other practitioners. To conduct temperament-based
workshops, practitioners can develop a new program or adapt an existing intervention. In either
case, multiple iterations are likely to be necessary. Great care should be taken to translate the
often complex, empirically-derived concepts into terminology that is understood by
consumers. In addition, the content and presentation of materials needs to be developmentally
appropriate. For example, if videotaped vignettes or other media are used, the actors should be
similar to the intended recipients. If the characters in the vignettes are children, they should be
engaged in developmentally appropriate activities. The instructional materials should also be
tested for readability so that they match the educational level of the intended audience.
Fortunately, assessing readability can be easily conducted on many word processing programs.
To assess whether the content and instructional materials are appropriate for the intended
population, the materials should be assessed by community stakeholders (e.g., parents,
teachers, community leaders). Including representatives from the community is critically
important for ascertaining the cultural appropriateness of the intervention (Dumka, Roosa,
Michaels, & Suh, 1995; McClowry & Galehouse, 2002). Although the notion of temperament
is widely acknowledged as universal, the degree to which certain traits are valued, expressed,
and encouraged can vary considerably across cultures. Cultures differentially favor and
promote particular traits and behavioral expressions of temperament. Temperament cannot,
therefore, be considered without close attention to the larger sociocultural context in which an
individual is embedded. Consistent with a “goodness-of-fit” model (Chess & Thomas, 1999;
Lerner, Nitz, Talwar, & Lerner, 1989), some temperamental traits are “good fits” with certain
cultures because they are perceived as reflective of instrumental competence.
Temperament-based intervention presupposes that certain behavioral expressions of
temperament are positive, beneficial and to be encouraged, while others are negative and to be
discouraged. Such assumptions, however, are rooted in culturally-laden beliefs about which
traits are which. Culture is both descriptive and prescriptive, explicating the way things are
and the way things should be. It relays the underlying assumptions about the nature of the self,
agency, and the social world (Cushman, 1995; Geertz, 1973; Shweder, 2003). In any given
culture, there are both unwritten and codified rules that reflect an underlying shared
understanding of the world. For example, in North American and many other Western cultures,
the implicit expectation is that assertiveness is of value and should be promoted. Accordingly,
these cultures promote assertive behavior in a variety of ways, as demonstrated by social-skills
programs that identify assertiveness as an optimal prosocial behavior (for example, see
Goldstein & McGinnis, 1997; McGinnis & Goldstein, 1997). In other more colleclivist
cultures, such as China, inhibited or shy behavior is perceived as an expression of social
competence that is encouraged by adults (Chen, Rubin, & Li, 1995, 1997; Kerr, 2001).
Consequently, the curriculum of a temperament-based intervention in China would emphasize
different social skills than one in North America.
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Intervention planners and adaptors of existing interventions also need to think reflectively
about a variety of core cultural values and beliefs, such as gender norms, the role of the family,
relational orientation, time orientation, and constructions of human nature, which are referred
to as “deep structures” (Resnicow, Soler, Braithwaite, Ahluwalia, & Butler, 2000; Santisteban,
Muir-Malcolm, Mitrani, & Sza-pocznik, 2002). Without such consideration, an intervention
is likely to lack cultural appropriateness and, consequently, lack utility as an effective means
for promoting change (Dumka et al, 1995; Kumpfer, Alvarado, Smith, & Bellamy, 2002;
Martinez & Eddy, 2005). When a deep structure cultural approach is used in the development
or adaptation of a temperament-based intervention, several underlying questions must be
addressed. First, what are the traits and behavioral expressions of temperament that are most
prized (or discouraged) by the culture? In other words, which temperamental traits are a “good
fit” with the culture, and which are not? Further, how is instrumental competence defined within
the given culture? That is, based on the standards of the culture, what behavioral responses
characterize optimal functioning? Finally, how can interventionists and researchers incorporate
this “deep structure” cultural perspective into program development? In the case of program
adaptation, how can cultural appropriateness be satisfied without compromising the fidelity of
the original program?
The focus group methodology is a useful tool for facilitating both the development of culturally
sensitive programs and the cultural adaptation of existing interventions. Through facilitated
group discussions with members of the target culture, focus group discussions help bring to
light the underlying “deep structure” knowledge that is shared by group members, as well as
the thought processes through which participants structure their social world. Through their
reliance on social interaction, focus groups provide participants with a forum to clarify their
positions on a given topic and, accordingly, allow the researcher to gain a deeper and more
nuanced understanding of participants’ attitudes and experiences (Hughes & DuMont, 2002).
Using an existing intervention as the starting point and stimulus for discussion, cultural
stakeholders can react to program content and discuss deep structure concerns. Specifically,
practitioners can draw attention to the underlying assumptions of the program by asking focus
group participants to evaluate the extent to which certain aspects of the program resonate with
the core values of the culture. Conversely, participants can also identify the components that
they find culturally dissonant. Based on the feedback, program modifications can be made and
subsequently presented to members of the community to ensure that the proposed changes
accurately reflect the social realities of the cultural group.
Importantly, when adapting existing interventions for use with multicultural populations,
concerns about cultural appropriateness need to be balanced with efforts to maintain program
fidelity. Thus, modifications should be made with consideration to the tension that exists
between ensuring program fidelity and adapting interventions so they are culturally relevant
to the target population (Castro, Barrera, & Martinez, 2004). Without attention to these two
critical elements, the intervention’s intended goals—and, consequently, its efficacy—may be
Once developed, formally testing the intervention is a critical next step to ascertaining its
efficacy. As in all research studies and clinical assessments, measurement tools should be
carefully selected. To accurately identify the temperament of participants, only instruments
that have demonstrated adequate reliability and validity should be used. A number of critiques
of temperament instruments exist (Shiner & Caspi, 2003; Strelau, 1998; Teglasi & Epstein,
Selecting tools that measure the outcome variable require additional consideration. Among the
challenges that researchers encounter in testing the efficacy of temperament-based
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interventions is differentiating temperament from behavioral outcomes. Some recent progress
on this methodologically troubling dilemma has been made. Lemery, Essex, and Srnider-
(2002) found that after removing confounded items on a temperament instrument and a
behavior problem scale, the magnitude of the correlations were not significantly different. This
suggests that reliable measures can accurately assess behavioral change resulting from
temperament-based intervention.
Pilot studies conducted with representatives of the selected population also can shed light on
the reliability and validity of the selected measures and the feasibility of the research protocol
(McClowry & Galehouse, 2002). The clinical value of the intervention should then be tested
in an efficacy trial (Shadish et al, 2002).
Current Trends and Future Directions in Temperament-Based Intervention
Recent findings on self-regulation shed new light on the concept of goodness of fit. As
previously noted, in order to achieve goodness of fit, parents and other caregivers are
encouraged to create or select an environment that matches the child’s temperament (Chess &
Thomas, 1984). Although children will attempt to modify the environment to match their own
temperament, the onus of providing goodness of fit primarily rests with adult caregivers.
Responsive parents know how to adjust their strategies based on their child’s temperament.
They also actively modify the environment to match those needs.
On a practical level, goodness of fit becomes more difficult to achieve as children get older
and enter environments where parents have less direct control. Parents who have adequate
personal, financial, and community resources may be better able to access child care and
educational environments that match their child’s temperament. For example, a small nurturing
preschool with a teacher who exudes warmth is likely to be a good choice for a child whose
temperament is high in withdrawal. In contrast, a stimulating, fast-paced day care center may
be more suitable for an active child. Such options, however, are not always available. Although
parents can advocate for their child’s particular temperament-related needs, the reality is that
some caregivers and environments are less responsive than others. Even when environments
are supportive, progressive developmental expectations often complicate achieving goodness
of fit.
When goodness of fit is re-examined through the lens of self-regulation, the emphasis changes
to those inevitable situations that occur when a child’s temperamental tendencies are
challenged by environmental demands. If self-regulation is malleable, as the descriptive
literature suggests, deliberate strategies could be implemented to enhance it. Children will
indubitably encounter situations that cause them some degree of uneasiness due to their
temperament. To achieve goodness of fit under such circumstances, caregivers can scaffold
the child while gently implementing strategies intended to expand the child’s emotional,
attentional, and behavioral repertoire. For example, a child whose temperament is low in task
persistence is likely to have difficulty independently completing multi-step tasks or
assignments. A responsive caregiver will simultaneously relay acceptance of the child’s
temperament while gently assisting him or her in completing the tasks through a series of
incremental steps. Positive recognition of the effort involved and acknowledgement of the
various stages of accomplishment are likely to stretch the child’s self-regulatory tendencies.
Although the child’s temperament will remain low in task persistence, after repeated episodes
of caregiver intervention, he or she may learn strategies that can be generalized across similar
situations. Over time, children can use cognitive strategies to deliberately override their own
emotional, attentional, and behavioral tendencies. The same painstaking approach can be self-
administered by an adult who experiences discomfort in situations that are not a good match
with his/her temperament.
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Science seldom advances by leaps and bounds. Instead, small incremental steps are usually
preceded by painstaking work. When viewed retrospectively and comprehensively,
temperament-based intervention has made progress in the last decade. An optimistic forward
glance promises further developments in closing the gap between descriptive research and
temperament-based intervention that is integrated into practice.
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Appendix A
INSIGHTS: Curriculum Outline for Parents and Teachers
Part 1: The 3 Rs of Child Management: Recognize, Reframe, and Respond
Session One: Recognizing Child Temperament—The program begins with a welcome
from the facilitator and the opportunity for the participants to introduce themselves and explain
why they have chosen to take part in the program. The facilitator then presents an overview of
the program and discusses the need for consistent attendance and the importance of keeping
session discussions confidential in order to maintain trust among the participants. The content
of the session includes a discussion of the major concepts of temperament its biological basis,
resistance to modification, manifestation in situations involving stress and change, and
relationship to goodness of fit Vignettes demonstrating the four dimensions of school-age
temperament are shown. Participants are asked to observe the children during the week for
expressions of temperament
Session Two: Reframing Child Temperament—The participants are given a computer
generated temperament profile of the children that is based on the information that they
provided at baseline. They then discuss how the temperament profile does or does not match
their intuitive impressions. Strengths and concerns regarding particular child temperaments
are discussed For example, a child who is high in approach is eager to meet new people and
try new activities. His/her parents and teachers, however, might be concerned about safety of
such a child. The participants are asked to observe the children’s behavior and their own
response to a situation that occurs during the week.
Session Three: Parent and Teacher Responses—Vignettes in this session
demonstrate how parent and teacher responses lead to different adult/child interactions. The
participants learn to identify their responses as optimal, adequate, or counter-productive. The
importance of the manner in which messages are spoken or delivered is also discussed.
Part 2: Gaining Compliance
Session Four: Gaining Control—The session focuses on how parents and teachers can
gain compliance through effective child management techniques. Individual contracts for
dealing with identified behavior problems are designed. Homework includes implementing the
contract and reporting results in subsequent sessions.
Session Five: Giving Recognition—The importance of recognition is stressed in this
session. Examples of reinforcements are discussed, demonstrated in the vignettes, and role-
played in modeling exercises.
Session Six: Disciplining School-Age Children—General principles of discipline are
discussed in this session. Vignettes display some of the common behavior problems that school-
age children often exhibit. Guidelines for using time-out are presented Strategies for dealing
with children who are high or low on the temperament dimensions are emphasized. The parents
and teachers develop a discipline plan for isolated incidents which they are encouraged to
implement consistently.
Session Seven: Parents and Teachers Are People, Too—Gaining compliance is still
emphasized in this session, but adult needs are also discussed. Strategies to implement time-
out for participants are explored.
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Part 3: Giving Control—Sessions Eight Through Ten
Session Eight: Fostering Independence—The developmental need of school-age
children for independence is explored in this session. Vignettes demonstrate age-appropriate
activities and child management strategies to foster responsibility and life-style habits.
Session Nine: Reviewing the Three Rs—Content from session one through three is
reviewed. The participants are engaged in identifying the three Rs in vignettes depicting more
complex disciplinary situations.
Session Ten: Putting it All Together—The content of sessions four through seven is
reinforced. Vignettes demonstrating more complex behavioral problems are shown. Parents
and teachers are given the opportunity to model their responses. Completion certificates are
given to the participants.
Sandee McClowry is a Professor in Applied Psychology and Teaching & Learning at New
York University. She-is the developer of INSIGHTS into Children’s Temperament and is the
principal investigator of the studies that have tested its efficacy.
Eileen T. Rodriguez is a doctoral candidate in Applied Psychology at New York University.
Her research focuses on the social and cultural contexts of children’s early learning trajectories
and their subsequent school readiness. She is also adapting the INSIGHTS program for
Spanish-speaking Latino parents of school-age children.
Robyn Koslowitz is a doctoral candidate in Applied Psychology at New York University. Her
research focuses on foregrounding culture as a lens for intervention in community and school
psychology. She is currently adapting the INSIGHTS program for use with Orthodox Jewish
populations. Mrs. Koslowitz is currently a predoctoral psychology intern at Trinitas Hospital.
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... Tersine, uyum zayıflığı uyumsuz işleyişe yol açabilmektedir. Ebeveynlerin çocukların mizacı ile uyumlu davranışlar sergilemesi, çocuğun uyum sürecinin daha kolay bir şekilde gerçekleşmesi ve davranış sorunlarının azaltılması bakımından oldukça önemlidir (McClowry, Rodriguez & Koslowitz, 2008;Wachs, 2006). Ancak yapılan araştırmaların sonuçları, ebeveynlerin genellikle ikinci çocuklarının doğumuna kadar mizaca inanmadıklarını ortaya koymaktadır (Akt. ...
... Konu bağlamında yapılan pek çok araştırmanın sonuçları da mizaç özelliklerinde çevresel faktörlerin etkisiyle değişimin olabileceğini ve bu çevresel faktörlerin önemini göstermesi bakımından anlamlıdır (Akt. McClowry, Rodriguez & Koslowitz, 2008). Ebeveynlik ve mizaç arasında bazı genel olumlu ilişkilerin olması da beklenmektedir: Örneğin, uyumlanabilen, yatıştırılması kolay veya girişken bir çocuk, sıcak ve duyarlı ebeveynliği ortaya çıkarabilirken, sinirli, talepkar veya geri çekilen bir çocuk, ebeveyn öfkesine veya uyarımın geri çekilmesine neden olabilmektedir. ...
... Okul öncesi dönemdeki çocukların mizaç özellikleri ve çevreleri ile iletişimleri üzerine yapılan araştırmalarda mizacın sosyal davranışlar, sosyal uyum, sosyal yeterlilikler/beceriler, iletişim ve akran ilişkileri ile ilişkisi olduğu ortaya konulmuştur (Arabacıoğlu, 2019;Başaran, 2005;Goldsmith vd., 1987;McClowry, Rodriguez & Koslowitz, 2008;Ramos, Wright-Guerin, Gottfried, Bathrust & Oliver, 2009;Wamboldt & Wamboldt, 2000;Zembat, Koçyiğit, Akşin-Yavuz & Tunçeli, 2018). Ancak yine de yapılan çalışmalarda, ebeveynlik ve mizaç hakkında basit sonuçlara varılamamaktadır. ...
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Bu çalışmada, okul öncesi dönemdeki çocukların mizaç özellikleri ile baba-çocuk iletişimi arasındaki ilişkinin çocukların cinsiyeti ve doğum sırası, babaların yaş ve öğrenim düzeyi değişkenine göre farklılık gösterip göstermediği araştırılmıştır. İlişkisel tarama modelindeki çalışmada resmi okul öncesi eğitim kurumlarına devam eden 232 çocuk ve babaları araştırma grubunu oluşturmuştur. Verilerin toplanmasında, Çocuklar İçin Mizaç Ölçeği (ÇİMO), Anne-Baba-Çocuk İletişimini Değerlendirme Aracı (ABÇİDA) ve Kişisel Bilgi Formu kullanılmıştır. Verilerin analizinde kişisel bilgilerin frekans ve yüzdeleri alınmış, değişkenler arası farkın belirlenmesinde Mann Whitney-U, Kruskal Wallis H Testi, iki ölçüm seti arasındaki ilişkinin belirlenmesinde Spearman Brown Korelasyon katsayısından yararlanılmıştır. Sonuç olarak çocukların mizacı ile baba-çocuk iletişimi arasında anlamlı bir fark olduğu; çocukların tepkisellik durumu, duyusal hassasiyet ve duygusal duyarlılık mizaç özellikleri arttıkça baba-çocuk iletişiminin tüm alanlarda daha olumlu düzeyde olduğu saptanmıştır. Kız çocuğu olan babaların çocuklarıyla iletişimlerinde konuşma ve dinleme düzeylerinin erkek çocuğu olanlara göre daha yüksek düzeyde olduğu, okul öncesi çocukları ilk sırada doğmuşsa baba-çocuk iletişiminde dinleme ve sözsüz iletişim becerilerinin daha yüksek düzeyde olduğu saptanmıştır. Baba-çocuk iletişiminin babaların yaşına bağlı olarak bir farklılık göstermediği; ilkokul mezunu babaların daha üst düzeydeki, ortaokul mezunu babaların ise lisans mezunu olan babalardan daha az sözsüz iletişimi kullandıkları sonucuna ulaşılmıştır.
... Nonetheless, this finding may suggest that temperamental distress to limitations could be used as a screening mechanism in infancy to select families where additional parenting and family support programs during toddlerhood could coach parents on effective parenting strategies for their child that could prevent a high and increasing pattern of behavior problems from evolving. Guided by the work of McClowry (McClowry & Collins, 2012;McClowry et al., 2008), these findings suggest that additional efforts to develop and test temperament-based interventions are needed. They also suggest the need for additional investigation into reciprocal associations between temperament, parenting, and behavior problems to help identify developmental periods when interventions that modify one of these behaviors could have downstream effects on other behaviors (e.g., when changes in temperament may lead to changes in parenting and when changes in parenting may lead to changes in behavior problems). ...
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Some children are more affected by specific family environments than others, as a function of differences in their genetic make-up. However, longitudinal studies of genetic moderation of parenting effects during early childhood have not been conducted. We examined developmental profiles of child behavior problems between 18 months and age 8 in a longitudinal parent–offspring sample of 361 adopted children. In toddlerhood (18 months), observed structured parenting indexed parental guidance in service of task goals. Biological parent psychopathology served as an index of genetic influences on children’s behavior problems. Four profiles of child behavior problems were identified: low stable (11%), average stable (50%), higher stable (29%), and high increasing (11%). A multinominal logistic regression analysis indicated a genetically moderated effect of structured parenting, such that for children whose biological mother had higher psychopathology, the odds of the child being in the low stable group increased as structured parenting increased. Conversely, for children whose biological mother had lower psychopathology, the odds of being in the low stable group was reduced when structured parenting increased. Results suggest that increasing structured parenting is an effective strategy for children at higher genetic risk for psychopathology, but may be detrimental for those at lower genetic risk.
... Following our model, we recommended building an evidence base of interventions stratified by clinical stage and illness subtype, and taking into account individual clinical and biological characteristics underlying disease progression (Manchia et al., 2020). Treatments could target-specific biobehavioural features of temperamental vulnerability or adapting already existing ESTs to address neurocognitive deficits/excesses McClowry et al., 2008). Given that neuroadaptive sensitivity to environmental influence is high during childhood (Colizzi et al., 2020), we advocate for increased investment into psychosocial interventions that address the interplay between neurodevelopmental vulnerabilities and adverse environments, to ensure the safest but effective front-line treatment options are available for children. ...
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Clinical staging is now recognized as a key tool for facilitating innovation in personalized and preventative mental health care. It places a strong emphasis on the salience of indicated prevention, early intervention, and secondary prevention of major mental disorders. By contrast to established models for major mood and psychotic syndromes that emerge after puberty, developments in clinical staging for childhood-onset disorders lags significantly behind. In this article, criteria for a transdiagnostic staging model for those internalizing and externalizing disorders that emerge in childhood is presented. This sits alongside three putative pathophysiological profiles (developmental, circadian, and anxious-arousal) that may underpin these common illness trajectories. Given available evidence, we argue that it is now timely to develop a transdiagnostic staging model for childhood-onset syndromes. It is further argued that a transdiagnostic staging model has the potential to capture more precisely the dimensional, fluctuating developmental patterns of illness progression of childhood psychopathology. Given potential improvements in modelling etiological processes, and delivering more personalized interventions, transdiagnostic clinical staging for childhood holds much promise for assisting to improve outcomes. We finish by presenting an agenda for research in developments of transdiagnostic clinical staging for childhood mental health.
... When clinicians develop temperament-based treatments for their clients, they maximize the goodness-of-fit between their client's unique proclivities with their therapeutic plans and activities thereby creating a powerful vehicle for change (McClowry et al., 2008). Viewing behavioral responses to anticipation through the lens of temperament offers tentative clinical implications. ...
Purpose : The purpose of the present study was to examine the degree to which certain temperament constructs predict individual differences in three types of behavioral responses to anticipation among children and adults who stutter (CWS and AWS, respectively): avoidance, physical change, and approach. Methods : Participants included 64 CWS (9- to 17-years-old) and 54 AWS (18- to 50-years-old) who completed an online survey package including a temperament questionnaire (Early Adolescent Temperament Questionnaire – Revised for the CWS; Adult Temperament Questionnaire for the AWS) and the Stuttering Anticipation Scale. The data were analyzed separately for CWS and AWS using multivariate multiple regressions to assess how each temperament construct predicted avoidance, physical change, and approach responses to anticipation. Results : CWS who reported higher levels of shyness were more likely to engage in avoidant behavioral responses when they anticipate an upcoming moment of stuttering. AWS who reported higher levels of orienting sensitivity were more likely to engage in avoidant behavioral responses when they anticipate an upcoming moment of stuttering. No temperament constructs predicted physical change or approach responses to anticipation among either age group. Conclusion : Specific aspects of temperament appear to be linked to the degree that CWS and AWS engage in avoidant behavioral responses to stuttering anticipation. These findings support the continued study of how individual differences impact the internal experience and outward manifestation of stuttering behaviors.
... There is a rich developmental literature on early temperamental traits and their interaction with the environment in promoting adjustment (Rothbart, 2007). The resulting intervention literature emphasizes the need for psychoeducation regarding individual temperamental style, prioritizing "goodness-offit" between temperament and environment, and enhancing self-regulatory skills for adapting to environments that represent challenges for given temperamental profiles (McClowry et al., 2008). Applying this work to AN, more explicit education regarding temperamental traits, and prioritizing seeking out environments for which their temperament is an optimal match and may promote success, represent two ways in which the field may draw from this area of research (Kaye et al., 2015). ...
Research suggests that individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) have certain temperamental traits (e.g. perfectionism, anxiety, harm avoidance), which often onset prior to the eating disorder (ED), and may persist following recovery. Although these traits are often represented as vulnerabilities to developing an ED, there is reason to believe that within certain contexts, these traits may serve as assets. We propose that traits can be harnessed within or outside of treatment to promote long-term success, and possibly relate to recovery. To do so, the current paper will: (1) outline literature on traits viewed as strengths; (2) review precedents for strengths-based interventions drawing from other areas of research; (3) propose a framework for future research to assess these strengths in AN; and (4) discuss the implications of the proposed research for the destigmatization of EDs. This last word calls for a shift to a dual consideration of traits as vulnerabilities and strengths.
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W badaniach dotyczących rozwoju dzieci zwraca się szczególną uwagę na rolę warunków, w jakich przebiega ich rozwój, oraz na znaczenie adekwatnej stymulacji, której źródłem jest najbliższe otoczenie, zwłaszcza dom rodzinny, a kolejno – przedszkole i szkoła. Wyniki badań wskazują, że im dziecko jest młodsze, tym większą, nawet kluczową, rolę w jego rozwoju odgrywa odpowiednie oddziaływanie środowiskowe, a więc i jakość otoczenia. W tym kontekście nabiera znaczenia adekwatne wsparcie dzieci wykazujących swoistą reaktywność na bodźce zarówno wewnętrzne, jak i zewnętrzne. W odniesieniu do tych dzieci należy z baczną uwagą śledzić tworzenie warunków do ich rozwoju oraz przenikliwie oceniać jakość kontaktu wychowawczego, który wymaga zaangażowania przede wszystkim ze strony wychowawcy, ale również i dziecka. To osoba wychowawcy, nauczyciela czy opiekuna oraz jego umiejętności tworzą środowisko sprzyjające rozwojowi dziecka. Zgodnie z powyższą tezą projektowanie wsparcia dzieci wysoko wrażliwych nie polega na modyfikacji ich cech. Również świadoma praca z dzieckiem nie zakłada ingerencji w cechę, nie przewiduje uczynienia dziecka mniej wrażliwym czy przyjęcia cechy za trudność bądź problem, z którym należy sobie poradzić, ale opiera się na zapewnieniu warunków, w których dzieci wysoko wrażliwe będą miały równe szanse na rozwijanie swojego potencjału. Celem niniejszego opracowania jest uzasadnienie potrzeby wspierania dzieci wysoko wrażliwych w ich najbliższym otoczeniu oraz przedstawienie propozycji takich działań. Materiał składa się z pięciu części. W pierwszej – Cechy dziecka wysoko wrażliwego przedstawiono zagadnienie aspektów tzw. wysokiej wrażliwości rozumianej jako cechy, a także problem manifestowania się cechy w różnych sferach funkcjonowania dziecka. Kolejno, w drugiej części Potrzeba identyfikacji dzieci wysoko wrażliwych, podjęto temat nasilenia cechy. Trzecia część opracowania to Znaczenie środowiska dla rozwoju dzieci wysoko wrażliwych, w której omówiono właściwości środowiska zewnętrznego, takie jak hałas czy nadmiar bodźców, oraz kwestię jakości środowiska wychowawczego. W tym kontekście należy zaznaczyć, że w niesprzyjających warunkach dziecko wysoko wrażliwe doświadcza trudności w przystosowaniu się, natomiast przy optymalnym wsparciu rozwija swój potencjał (ang. Vantage Sensitivity), czyli wrażliwość dającą przewagę. Czwarta część zawiera prezentację tematu Wsparcie dzieci wysoko wrażliwych w systemie edukacji, co w praktyce oznacza optymalną dla nich postawę wychowawcy, wyrastającą z założeń psychologii humanistycznej. W części piątej, ostatniej, podjęto temat Pomoc dzieciom wysoko wrażliwym poprzez wsparcie rodziców i nauczycieli.
This chapter focuses on two influential intrinsic constructs: temperament and self‐regulation. It describes both temperament and self‐regulation with attention to environmental influences and challenges, assessment, and intervention strategies to enhance self‐regulation in young children and to manage dysfunctional self‐regulatory skills. The chapter highlights Delaney's guidelines for assessment that are directly related to self‐regulation: emotional regulation, behavioral regulation/inhibitory control, and coping and stress responses. The increased developmental research in temperament and self‐regulation has heightened interest in both assessing these areas in young children and integrating treatment strategies that target specific aspects of both temperament and self‐regulation. Early assessment of temperament and continued assessment of age‐appropriate self‐regulatory abilities allow the professional to provide anticipatory guidance to parents and intervene when indicated. While the new evidence‐based programs focus exclusively on younger children, many professionals have experience working with older children and adolescents whose self‐regulatory problems are prominent and dysfunctional.
The present study examined both the intergenerational transmission of hostile parenting as well as the moderating effects of child negative emotional reactivity on continuity across generations. The study also considered the link between hostile parenting in the second generation and problem behaviors in the third. Observational ratings of mothers' hostile parenting in the first generation (G1) when the target participant was an adolescent (G2) predicted observational ratings of G2 hostile parenting toward their young child several years later (G3). G2 hostile parenting was positively related to behavior problems in the G3 sample. Moreover intergenerational continuity in hostile parenting was evident only when G3 children were rated as highly reactive and emotionally negative during an observational arm restraint task, suggesting that child negative reactivity may condition intergenerational stability in parent hostility. Although the moderating effect was not significant statistically, a similar trend was evident for the link between G2 parenting and G3 problem behavior.
Beginning in 1956, Stella Chess and Alexander Thomas tracked the lives of 133 children from infancy to young adulthood, examining in detail their psychological development over a twenty-five-year period. The result was the groundbreaking New York Longitudinal Study. This book, first published in 1984, presents a complete report of the study, including analyses of the data and exploration of such fundamental questions as gender differences, antecedents of adult behavior patterns, and factors that contribute to depression and other disorders. Special emphasis is given to the clinical evaluation and treatment of patients with behavioral abnormalities. The authors discuss key findings: the important role of parental guidance, the continuities and discontinuities across developmental stages, the crucial effects of temperament on psychological development, and the usefulness of a goodness of fit model for understanding the relationship between person and environment and for describing the evolution of behavior disorders."
A five-stage model for prevention program development and research is presented and illustrated in the development of a parenting intervention for low income, ethnically diverse families. The intervention, called the Raising Successful Children Program, was aimed at reducing child mental health problems. We report how mediator variables were identified, how the intervention was designed to impact these variables, how the intervention was implemented, and the results of the pilot tests.
A parenting manual that is temperament-based. The book is full of practical strategies that improve children's behavior and parent/child relationships.
This paper reviews how cascading levels of contextual influences, starting with family factors and extending to neighborhood and school factors, can affect children's behavioral and emotional development. The ability of contextual factors to trigger or to attenuate children's underlying temperament and biological risk factors is emphasized. Recognition of the powerful effects of an array of contextual factors on children's development has clear implications for preventive interventions as well. Intervention research can explore the effects of multicomponent interventions directed at children's family and peer contextual influences, can examine how contextual factors predict children's responsivity to interventions, and can examine how contextual factors have effects on how, and how well, interventions are delivered in the real worlds of schools and community agencies.
Explores the effects of individual student and teacher temperaments on children's learning and achievement from preschool to middle school. The book contains lively classroom examples and draws upon relevant research. The goal is to assist readers to understand: 1) the role of temperament in children's behavior, interactions, and achievement; 2) its effect on teacher perceptions, decisions, and reactions; 3) the importance of the fit between a child's temperament and the school environment; 4) how temperament effects students with learning disabilities, developmental delays, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); and 5) the fundamental methods of assessing temperament, including interviews, observations, and rating scales. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)