Presentation on theme: "Infant & Toddler Group Care"— Presentation transcript:
1 Infant & Toddler Group Care Temperament: The Key to Understanding BehaviorThe topic for this session is Temperament. Understanding how each of the nine temperamental traits identified by Alexander Thomas and Stella Chess impact a person’s (infant or adult) behavior is critical in providing responsive care and developing a close, caring relationship.
2 Learning Objectives Participants will be able to: Name and compare the 9 temperamental traits identified by Thomas and Chess as they appear in infants and toddlers.Identify genetic (nature) and environmental (nurture) influences on the expression of temperamental traits.Describe and compare examples of the concept of “goodness of fit” and “poorness of fit” between the adult and individual child.Identify ways in which culture influences the expression of temperament traits.Review the learning objectives for the Temperament session. Understanding an infant’s or toddler’s temperament is critical to providing responsive care.
3 What image comes to mind when you hear the word temperament? ReflectionWhat image comes to mind when you hear the word temperament?Prepare a flip chart titled “ Temperament” that has been divided into 2 sections –one labeled positive (+) and the other negative (-).Ask participants to close their eyes for a couple of minutes and ask them to “capture” the first vision or word that comes into their mind when they hear the word Temperament.After a couple of minutes, ask the participants to open their eyes.Ask for volunteers to describe their vision or word that came to their mind. Chart the participant responses on the large chart paper. Along with revealing the word or vision, ask the participants to tell you if the word or vision is viewed as positive or negative in their culture. They may indicate that the vision is neutral—in these cases write the word in the middle of the chart.In reviewing the list of words describing “temperament” point out that certain traits are more acceptable in some cultures than in others. As we will discuss later in the session, cultures reinforce those traits that their culture views as positive.Ask the participants to give you the word or describe their vision in a word and to tell you whether they view the word or vision as positive or negative. Write the words on the chart in either the positive or negative column.Compare the number of responses in the positive and the negative column. Discuss how often the temperamental traits are viewed as negative. While different cultures value certain temperament traits, most cultures view some of the traits negatively.
4 Early Research New York Longitudinal Study Temperament has been studied by researchers across the world for many years. The first researchers to take a close look at temperament characteristics in longitudinal study were Alexander Thomas, a psychiatrist working with adults and Stella Chess, his wife who was also a psychiatrist but worked with children. Thomas and Chess became interested in the individual differences they saw among their patients. In 1956 they begin the New York Longitudinal Study at New York University. The study followed the 133 individuals for 35 years. The subjects were 133 infants ages 2 to 3 months of age who were followed into adulthood. The study was conducted primarily through interviews about the children’s behavior with their parents and then eventually with the subjects themselves. Thomas and Chess identified 9 temperament traits. They believed that each trait is expressed in a broad range of normal individual differences and that most of the traits were fairly stable throughout the life span. Thomas and Chess also grouped children with various traits into clusters that reflected three temperamental styles—Flexible. Fearful and Feisty. They did note, however, that 35% of the individuals in the study did not fit in these three categories—flexible, fearful, and feisty.Stella Chess also identified the importance of goodness of fit and the problems associated with poorness of fit between the child and their primary caregivers.New York Longitudinal Studyby Stella Chess & Alexander ThomasStella Chess, M.D., Temperaments of Infants and Toddlers, A Guide to Social-Emotional Growth and Socialization,1990
5 Nine Temperaments Traits* Activity levelBiological RhythmsApproach/WithdrawalMoodIntensity of ReactionSensitivityAdaptabilityDistractibilityPersistenceHere are the nine temperamental traits identified by Thomas and Chess in the NY longitudinal study. Thomas and Chess felt that most human behavior represented by these traits fell somewhere within a normal range from low to high. Thomas and Chess believed that unless the individual experienced some life-alter event (for example-being struck by lightning or suffering post-traumatic stress from combat) and an individual’s traits remained stable over time. More recent research has indicated that some traits are more stable than other traits. Note that the bolded traits have been found to be more stable over time in more recent research studies.Have participants look at Handout #6 to read the description of each trait. Review each trait briefly to ensure that participants understand the characteristics of each trait.*(Bolded traits are most stable over time)
6 Temperaments: Introduction and Key Concepts This DVD shows the various temperamental traits expressed in the behaviors of infants and toddlers ages birth to three years. Show the first section of the DVD- Flexible, Fearful or Feisty (9 minutes)This section of the video introduces the 9 traits as they appear in infants and toddlers. As the participants are watching the DVD ask them to think about their own temperament traits and how they react physiologically (internal wind-chimes) in different situations. Let them know that they will be completing a self-assessment of their temperament as well as the temperament of someone that they know fairly well and who they often find it difficult to deal with.Flexible, Fearful, or Feisty: The Different Temperaments of Infants and Toddlers, 1990
7 Impact of Temperament: Can determine caregivers’ reactions to the child.Affects how the child interprets and makes sense of life experiences.Shapes the child’s choices of activities and environments (which may affect the child’s temperamental way of being).As caregivers, we each react somewhat differently to a child’s expression of a particular trait. For example, a caregiver who enjoys quiet cuddly children may not enjoy a highly active, physically sensitive infant who may not like to be held. Or we may react to a moody child who whines or cries more than other children.On the other hand, a child who is highly sensitive to bright lights, noise or pain, may view the world as harsh and either withdraw or cry.A child with a high activity level and who has a tendency to approach new people or things will behave very differently then a child who has a tendency to withdraw from new people or things.It is really important that care teachers look beyond the three categories of flexible, fearful and feisty and observe each child closely over time to see where they fall in each of the nine traits. It is also important that each care teacher observe their own reactions (physiological responses) in understanding their own temperament traits. If there is a significant difference between where the care teacher and a child fall on a particular temperamental trait( activity level, sensitivity, approach/withdrawal), the more likely the teacher is to not understand how the child experiences the world.Stella Chess coined the term “goodness of fit” and “poorness of fit,” which related to how well the adult adapted their expectations of a child’s behavior so that the child could be successful in meeting the expectation.
9 Stability of Temperament There are moderate levels of stability of individual temperament patterns over time. We would expect to see greater stability in temperament patterns within a given situation rather than across situations.The newer research somewhat differs from Thomas’s and Chess’s belief that baring “major life altering events” temperament traits were stable over time. The more recent researchers found “moderate levels of stability” and pointed out that we should expect to see greater stability within a particular context than across contexts or situations.
10 Definition of Temperament “Early-appearing patterns of observable behavior that are presumed to be biologically based and that distinguish one child from another.”Rothbart & Derryberry, Zero to Three Journal, March 2004Please mention that the recent research language focuses on “observable behavior, where as Thomas and Chess focused on how each child physiologically experiences the world. Also, note the above quote states that the behaviors are presumed to be biologically based.
11 What Influences Individual Differences in Temperament? GenesBrain ProcessesFamily EnvironmentNutritionCultureBiomedical ConditionsToxic SubstancesTemperament and Development: The Role of Context in a BiologicallyBased System, Theodore Wachs, Zero to Three Journal, March 2004TemperamentThis graph illustrates the multiple influences on the expression of a person’s temperament. As we can see, genetic make up has the strongest influence, followed by the brain processes (the balance of neurotransmitters utilized by the central nervous system). The environment, including the family environment (calm and regulated versus chaotic and no schedule or order), nutrition, biomedical conditions, and toxic substance (exposure to lead etc.).Current researcher view “Temperament “ as being the result of the interaction of all of these factors.Ask participants to guess the degree to which genes impact temperament using an estimated percentage. Have several of the participants share their estimates.
12 Genetic Influences“Genetic influences typically account for between 20% and 35% of individual variations in temperament.”“Stronger genetic influences are found for negative temperament domains (such as fear and inhibition) than for positive temperament domains such as positive affect and approach.”Goldsmith, Buss & Lemery, 1997While we generally think that temperament is inborn or based on our genetics, some of us are surprised that recent research has found that our “genes-or genetic make-up) only account for 20% to 35% of the individual variations in temperament. Note that this research is still in its infancy and that with the study of genetics, early brain development and processing through functional MRI’s and other tools, more will become known in the future.
13 Gene / Environment Interaction Environments can influence how genes are expressed. Their intensity can either reduce or increase genetically-based risks.The child’s experiences play a significant role in shaping temperament-based behaviors.”Source: Theodore Wachs, Temperament and Development: The Role of Context in a Biologically Based System, Zero to Three, March 2004The interactive dance between genes and environment is much more ongoing than once thought. Of course we know that genes set the stage for how we experience things, but now we also know that environment influences the workings of genes and how our genes are expressed. Environment can influence intensity of expression of our genes in ways not previously understood.
14 Temperament Described in Two Dimensions: “Reactivity refers to individual differences in the arousability of the child: how easily the child is moved to action. It includes temperament traits such as activity level, intensity of reaction, and the emotional qualities of temperament.”“Self-Regulation refers to individual differences in managing these reactive tendencies. It includes temperament traits such as approach/withdrawal, persistence, distractibility, adaptability, and emotional qualities related to emotional self-control (such as soothability).”Mary Rothbart, who has been very active in recent research on temperament, in 2004 described temperament in terms of Reactivity (the arousability of the child) and Self-Regulation (the child’s ability to manage their reactions). Sensitivity thresholds related to noise, touch, taste, bright lights, movement through space, pain and frustration vary tremendously. A child with high sensitivity is probably also highly reactive. It is a lot easier for a child with low sensitivity to have a positive mood, mild reactions, moderate activity level, as well as approach rather than withdraw, be persistent, adaptable and easily soothed.Individuals with low sensitivity thresholds more easily become overwhelmed and react intensely. The more highly sensitive a child is, the more difficulty managing her reactive tendencies. She may withdraw, be easily distracted and have a more negative mood. A care teacher may have a more difficult time soothing a highly sensitive child.Rothbart, M.K “Temperament and the Pursuit of an Integrated Developmental Psychology,”Merrill Palmer Quarterly, 50:
15 Temperament Is Affected by Experience Reactivity is controlled by brain and hormonal systems related to emotion and stress that enable newborns to become highly aroused. Differences in reactivity appear in very young infants.Young children who are frequently in difficult and stressful situations may become more irritable and reactive, and less capable of self- regulation, than other children.Reactivity is controlled by the brain stem through which all external sensory input passes and the Limbic system of the brain. The role of these 2 brain systems is survival—they determine if the individual should be afraid and if so, should the individual fight or flee. These systems impact the brain systems that control the levels of stress hormones.Think back to the session on early brain development when we talked about the impact of stress:Toxic stress refers to strong frequent or prolonged activation of the body stress management system. Stressful events that are chronic uncontrollable and/or experienced without the child having access to support from caring adults tend to provoke these types of toxic stress responses. Studies indicate that such stress responses can have adverse impact on brain architecture. In the extreme, such as in cases of severe chronic abuse, toxic stress may result in the development of a smaller brain. Less extreme exposure to toxic stress can change the stress system so that responds at lower thresholds to events that might not be stressful to others, thereby increasing the risk of stress related physical and mental and illness.2. Early, frequent, and intense stress tunes the brain to set stress regulation mechanisms at high levels. This often results in a child operating in a persisting fear state.3. High levels of Stress hormones disrupt brain architecture and leads to stress management systems that respond at relatively lower thresholds and increases the risk of stress-related physical and mental illness.
16 Self-Regulation“…the brain systems that enable infants to manage their arousal and calm down take a longer time to mature.”“…these brain areas—which are also associated with long-term planning and engaging in complex activities– continue to develop into adulthood.”(Thompson et al, 2011)Ross A. Thompson, Janet E. Thompson, and Julia Luckenbill, The Developing Brain and Its Importance to Relationships, Temperament, and Self-regulationThe pre-frontal cortex which provides the logical, rational input into stressful situations, takes very long to develop and is not fully developed until the early to mid-twenties. In infancy, the adult plays a major role in helping an infant regulate himself and only gradually moves to co-regulation.Major factors considered for school readiness for 5 year olds is the child’s ability to self-regulate—calm himself down, focus attention, use words rather than hit another child.
17 Parental BehaviorsChildren who were initially highly inhibited became less so over time if their parents set firm age-appropriate limits on their children’s behavior, helped their children practice appropriate coping skills, and responded less frequently, or were less solicitous when their children exhibited stress.Cautious or shy children should not be isolated or insulated from new experiences and parents/teachers should not push the child into new experiences too quickly. Cautious children need a calm, supportive adult to facilitate or scaffold such experiences. This will provide the child with opportunities to develop and practice coping strategies/skills.(Arcus, 2001, Park, Belsky, Putnam, & Crnic, 1997; Rubin, Hastings, Steward, Henderson, & Chen, 1997)
18 Impact of Environment & Nutrition “Research has shown that children living in more chaotic homes—that is, homes that are noisy, crowded, and poorly structured, where nothing has a time or a place—are more likely to be easily irritated and have more intense negative moods than children living in less chaotic homes.” “Researchers have linked iron deficiency anemia to lower levels of alertness and increased amounts of negative emotionality in both neonates and older infants.”Children need some structure and routines in their lives in order to be able to predict what will happen next or when they can expect to eat or sleep. Structure and routines provides the child with the feeling that they have some control over their lives and reduces the likelihood of elevated stress levels.Iron carries oxygen to the brain. If a child is anemic they will feel tired, sleep more and be fussier.Source: Theodore Wachs, Temperament and Development: The Role of Context in a Biologically Based System, Zero to Three Journal, March 2004
19 The Three Temperamental Types and How to Adapt Care for Each Type This section of the DVD shows the three temperamental Types identified by Thomas and Chess: Flexible (40% of Children), Fearful (15% of children) and Feisty 10% of children) and what caregiving strategies are most successful with each temperament type. This video clip starts at 8.26 and goes to on the DVD.Note: 35% of children do not fit neatly into these three types. To be responsive to the needs of each child, care teachers need to understand where each child falls on each of the 9 temperament traits. Children who are particularly high or very low on a trait, typically need the care teacher to support the child by adapting her expectations so the child can be successful.,Flexible, Fearful, or Feisty: The Different Temperaments of Infants and Toddlers, 1990
20 Differing Views of “Ideal” Traits In China, teachers viewed shy, sensitive children as socially and academically competent.In North America, teachers viewed shy, sensitive children as lonely and depressed.In Sweden, shy, socially reserved behavior was not consistently associated with any negative long-term outcomes, yet in North America, such behavior was found to hinder careers.Nearly 40% of children in the US are being raised in families that may espouse somewhat different socialization goals and may value different “ideal” traits than those promoted among Anglo-American families.Different cultures reinforce different behaviors in children based on the cultural values and socio-economic context. We also need to realize that we live in a very diverse society and that many (nearly 40%) of families with children may not have the same values as Anglo-American families.During the first three years of life, children are developing a sense of who they are in the context within which they live. They are also learning what their caregivers value and what they don’t. In order to understand and meet expectation of care teachers, infants and toddlers need to receive consistent messages about how to behave. PITC believes that parents/families are the most important teachers of young children and that it is critical for care teachers to learn from each family what they value and what child rearing strategies they use so that the early care and education program uses the same strategies to provide cultural consistency for each child and family.Vivian L. Carlson, Xin Feng, Robin L. Harwood, Zero to Three Journal, March 2004
21 American Nuclear Family “… most American parents are intensely concerned with early self-regulation in feeding and sleeping routines because such routines enable the accomplishment of necessary adult and family tasks in a single caregiver environment.”Vivian L. Carlson, Xin Feng, Robin L. Harwood, Zero to Three Journal, March 2004It is important to note that early self-regulation is not necessarily a value held by most families in the world. A large percentage of the world’s population values interdependence with the adult being responsible for regulating the child’s feeding and sleeping.However, with 60 percent infants and toddlers living in families where both parent works , the adults need infants and young children to have regular sleeping and eating patterns so that they can take care of necessary family and work tasks.
22 Temperament Combinations Most Frequently Observed in Clinical Settings High Energy, Low Adaptability34.75%(Feisty)Sensitive, Withdrawing25.5%(Cautious)Low/Average Energy, Low Adaptability21%High Energy, High Adaptability12.5%Low Energy, High Adaptability6.25%(Flexible)Active, slow adapting or intense slow-adaptingActive low persistent or active, low persistent and slow adaptingSensitive, intense and withdrawing or sensitive, withdrawingLow/average activity and slow-adapting or low/average intensity and slow adapting or low persistenceActive and/or intense plus adaptable or approachingLow in intensity and/or low in activityAdaptableApproachingThese data are from The Temperament Perspective: Working with Children’s Behavioral Styles by Jan Kristal, 2005 which is based on a Kaiser Permanente Research Study of Children’s Temperament. The chart illustrates main-stream America’s cultural values on child behavior. Both feisty and cautious children were most frequently referred for clinical services, while the typical “flexible child” was the least apt to receive clinical services. If a child has high energy or withdraws and does not easily adapt to new routines or new activities, there “must be something wrong with them.” Mainstream American parents want children who are only moderately active and highly adaptive.Source: The Temperament Perspective: Working with Children’s Behavioral Styles , Jan Kristal, 2005
23 Activity: Achieving a Goodness of Fit Complete the Temperament Assessments (Handouts #7) for your own temperament.Next: In small groups, each participant chart needs to chart their temperament on Handout #8, The Chart of Temperament Traits using a different colored pen .Next: take a few minutes to review the differences in the group member’s temperament traits.Finally, share how you would want your primary care teacher to adapt his/her care strategies to meet your needs and achieve a “goodness of fit” (assume all of you are 18 to 24 months old)..This is an activity where each participant assesses their own temperament and then in a small group of 4 or 5 participants examine the differences in temperamental traits among group members. To apply this knowledge to a group infant/toddler care situation, each participant shares with the others how they want their primary care teacher to adapt his/her care strategies to meet their individual temperamental needs and achieve a goodness of fit.In small groups of not more than 4 adults, with each using a different colored pen, have each participant chart their temperament on Handout #8, The Chart of Temperament Traits .In the small group, take a few minutes reviewing the differences in the group member’s temperament traits.Then have each person share how they would want their primary care teacher to adapt his/her care strategies to meet their your needs and achieve a “goodness of fit” (assume all of you are 18 to 24 months old).Each group reports to the larger group one strategy the teacherwill use to achieve a goodness of fit for one of their children.
24 Reviewing the Learning Objectives Participants will be able to:Name and compare the 9 temperamental traits identified by Thomas and Chess as they appear in infants and toddlers.Identify genetic (nature) and environmental (nurture) influences on the expression of temperamental traits.Describe and compare examples of the concept of “goodness of fit” and “poorness of fit” between the adult and individual child.Identify ways in which culture influences the expression of temperament traits.Review the learning objectives for the Temperament session. Understanding an infant’s or toddler’s temperament is critical to providing responsive care. Ask participants if they have any questions or comments about temperament. Go to the final slide which has quotes.
25 Closing Thoughts…“Fairness to infants is not treating each child the same!Understanding temperaments is the key to all relationships!”- J. Ronald Lally, Ed.D.Fairness is a strong American Cultural value which is usually interpreted as needed to treat every child in the same manner—interacting in exactly the same way or providing exactly the same food or play materials. In understanding temperamental differences, we learn that we all have different needs and desires. The above quote redefines fairness---as not treating each child the same.We all use our knowledge of temperament in understanding others which is the key to all relationships. I hope you use this knowledge in your work with children, co-workers, family members and friends.