Saturday, February 20, 2010

Some fun Ideas to Craft with your Toddler...

Fun Toddler Craft Ideas

Getting a toddler to sit still can be a near-impossible feat. They're constantly exploring the world around them. That's a good thing, but sometimes they need some creative downtime. That's where toddler crafts come in.

Crafting is great for toddlers for a number of reasons. It can help them develop longer attention spans. Most crafts help develop hand-eye coordination. And young children can benefit from learning how to follow simple instructions. Here are some craft ideas that your toddler can do (with supervision).

Craft Stick Puppets

Puppets are fascinating to toddlers. Creating their own puppets is easy, and it's lots of fun. All you really need are some craft or popsicle sticks, construction paper, safety scissors, markers and glue.

Help your toddler cut animal shapes out of construction paper. He can draw faces and other details with washable markers. Glue the stick to the back of the shape, let dry, and he's ready to put on a puppet show. If you want to make more elaborate puppets, try cutting shapes out of foam. Glue on a pom pom for the nose, and add some googly eyes.

Paint with Pudding

Kids love to fingerpaint, but it's so messy. And there's also the concern about them eating the paint. Even if the paints are nontoxic, it can make cautious parents uneasy. The solution? Let them paint with pudding!

You don't need different flavors to make different colors. Just use one serving of plain vanilla pudding, divide it up into small portions, and add food coloring to create various shades. Give your child a paper plate to use as a canvas for his masterpiece. When he's done, he can eat it with no worries.

Design a T-Shirt

If your toddler sees you sewing or painting clothes with fabric paint, she may want to try her hand at designing clothes. But needles are small and sharp, and fabric paint is messy. What to do? Break out the markers!

Kids can have a blast decorating a plain white t-shirt with colorful markers. If you use washable ones, they can create a design, wear it, and start over after you wash the shirt. If a permanent design is desired, however, you'll have to let him use non-washable markers. You can avoid a mess by covering the work area with newspaper and putting a smock on your toddler.


Making placemats out of contact paper is very easy. Have your toddler cut shapes out of construction paper and glue them onto a whole piece with a glue stick. He can add detail with markers or embellish with stickers. When he's done, place the artwork on a piece of contact paper, sticky side up. Place another sheet of contact paper on top, sticky side down.

Most toddlers will only have the patience to make one placemat at a time. But he can make another one tomorrow, continuing until there are enough for the whole table. He'll be so proud to know that everyone sees his artwork at every meal!

Crafting can help your toddler learn important skills while keeping him quietly occupied. Whether it's a rainy day or he's just feeling creative, seize the opportunity to let him channel his imagination into something you can both admire.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Teratogens? How do they impact my child's development? What is exposure? What now?

Teratogens are harmful environmental influences to fetal development (Berk, 2008). These external interferences can come from a variety of sources. Stress of the mother is considered a teratogen and results in behavioral problems, low birth weight, emotional and behavioral problems (Department). Caffeine, smoking and drugs all can lead to low birth weight (Department). Other Teratogens include medications, pollutants, injury, disease or illness, etc. (Berk, 2008). Teratogens may lead to birth defects, development impairments, or even death (Michigan). Teratogens that result in cognitive delay or impairment in the future are considered Behavioral Teratogens (Michigan).

The level of influence the Teratogens have depend on several factors. The threshold effect is one of these factors. The threshold effect occurs when a teratogen that is relatively harmless in a small quantity becomes dangerous at a specific level, or threshold (Michigan). Along with the threshold effect, the duration of exposure is relevant to the impact (Berk, 2008). Another factor is referred to as the interaction effect, resulting when a stimulus is harmless independently presented, but in combination with other stimuli becomes dangerous to the embryo (Michigan). Heredity is also an important indicator whether a teratogen will have an increased or decreased influence on the embryo (Berk, 2008). Genetics determine if an embryo is susceptible or resilient to the specific influence (Berk, 2008).

Timing, or age of the fetus, is highly relevant to the impact of the teratogen (Berk, 2008). Before the fifteenth day after conception, Teratogens have a decreased effect (Berk, 2008). The embryonic period, on the other hand, is the most vulnerable to external influences (Berk, 2008). Organ damage may still result if the Teratogens are presented during the fetal period, but the risk is significantly decreased (Berk, 2008). Decreased nutrition, for example, during the embryonic stage has been linked to physical deformities, while malnutrition during the fetal period is linked to small head circumference and low birth weight (Department). The timing or age of the developing human is critical due to the processes of development occurring during that period. In the third week after conception, the heart is forming, the beginning of brain and spinal cord development is occurring, and the gastrointestinal tract is forming (Boeree). During the 15th day to the third week, the presence of specific Teratogens has been related to the infant being born without limbs and the presence of the heart outside of the cavity (Boeree). During the week four through five, the heart has begun a rhythm, the vertebra is forming, basic ears and eye development is occurring, while the voice box is presenting (Boeree). Thus Teratogens insulting the embryo may cause cleft palate, missing hands and feet, esophageal difficulties, impaired vision and hearing (Boeree). A further example of the timing factor is from the Nineteen Sixties when Thalidomide was prescribed to pregnant women (Berk, 2008). Mothers who ingested this medication who were carrying a four to six week old embryo had higher rates of births with limb deformities, heart damage, kidney and genital deformities (Berk, 2008).

The manners in which Teratogens impact the developing human vary. Caffeine, smoking, drugs, stress, and inadequate nutrition are all related to physical development (Department). In fact, statistics reveal that forty five percent of all pregnancies result in miscarriage (Department). Not all of these are related to Teratogens; however, that number is staggering. One study found that the age of the mother is relevant to development of the fetus, and the younger age increases the risk of healthy infants (Department). Rresearch also indicates that mothers in their twenties are at a higher risk for poor prenatal care and malnutrition (Department). Thus, one has to wonder if the threat of Teratogens counters the increase in health relative to a younger birthing age. The impact of stress has been studied in animals and humans (Department). Research indicates that this teratogen is linked to decreased birth weight and increased behavioral and emotional difficulties (Department). Pollutants such as mercury have been linked to mental retardation, physical defects, language and speech delays, oral motor deficits, and brain damage (Berk, 2008). Lead, another pollutant that has a teratogen effect on infants, is related to the risk of prematurity, low birth weight, brain damage, and physical defects (Berk, 2008). Even slight levels of lead increase the risk as being a behavioral teratogen (Berk, 2008).

One final note worth mentioning, although not a teratogen, is the post natal environment. Post natal environment plays a significant role in the impact a teratogen has on the infant after birth. Research finds that the response of the caregiver and the environment the infant is exposed to assists in determining the degree to which the teratogen will influence the rest of the individual’s life. For example, infants born from prenatal exposure to cocaine, heroin, and methadone have decreased birth weight, physical deformities, and respiratory difficulties (Boeree). Behaviorally, the results are abnormal sleep patterns, high pitched crying, decreased attention to environmental stimuli, delayed motor development (Boeree). However, studies have determined that some infants change these behavioral outcomes, but the change is dependent upon a safe and nurturing environment with a responsive caregiver (Boeree). So, although the physical outcomes can not be altered after teratogen exposure, the behavioral Teratogens could have a decreased impact on the life of the child.

Valerie Poling
Child Psychology

Berk, L. (2008). Prenatal Development. In L. Berk, Infants, Children, and Adolescents (pp. 69-163). Boston: Pearson.
Boeree, G. C. (n.d.). Prenatal Development. Retrieved January 18, 2010, from General Psychology:
Department, C. P. (n.d.). Hazards to Prenatal Development: Teratogens. Retrieved January 18, 2010, from^colunga/P468/teratogens.PDF
Michigan, U. o. (n.d.). Teratogens. Retrieved January 17, 2010, from University of Michigan Psychology Course:^psycourse/350/jaeckelj/terats.htm

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

A little about me... Mommy Tyme

I just finished reviewing a few private comments I had received from this blog, and I thought, WOW! How did I miss that? I have not really introduced myself or told you anything about why I am writing this blog...

Obviously from the shop widgets and my links you can see that I am a handmade nut! I love to create, and do so fanatically! I currently have a web site at and I have several shops:

Along with 2 blogs that discuss creating and selling handmade:

Along with this, I run a group home for adults with developmental disabilities and have done this for many, many, many years... In fact, since I was 18 (39, now!) that is the profession I have always found myself in... (a few waitress jobs here and there, but my passion is working with individuals with special needs). Why? Because of respect. I respect my clients and do not see the differences that others might. We are all unique and diverse- and my clients diversity is simply in development rather than race, gender, etc. I love the fact that when I come to work I have a family- when I go home from work, I have a family. And whenever possible, I attempt to mix it all together!

Along with that, I am also a full time grad student in Child and Adolescent Development. I am nearing the end. I have a four year old son whom we adopted 3 years ago - and he is literally my sun and moon!

But, when I became a mom at 36 years- for the first time- I thought everything I did was wrong.. I am so used to developmental deficits and delays that I did not know what "normal" development was... and I know there must be a zillion people out there just like me! When I have a question, I research it! Thus, the beginning of this blog...

Also, I think that prevention and intervention is the path to healthy, happy lives. Cultural diversity is key, and the family dynamics need to be unique and individual- but, there are some universal truths that we all must take into consideration! Teratogens will harm your baby. Neglect can be emotional or physical. Etc. and Etc. This is stuff you cant just find out on your own...or it will be too late. We all need to share it with our neighbors, friends, and family. Furthermore, children are having children and they may not have the knowledge, training or skills that they need to be a parent. This is where we, as a community, have to offer assistance - or the future generations are going to be psychologically inept.

Thus, my blog-

I really encourage you to ask questions, comment, share personal experiences! I want to hear from everyone. I do not know everything (my four year old tells me that on a regular basis)- but I WANT to know everything. What works for one family, may not work for another- but a solution exists- we just have to find it!

So, please share and help others! This blog does not have a lot of followers- but it does have a lot of readers- and what you say matters and helps someone else- isn't that a fantastic contribution?

So, feel free to introduce yourself, post your blog links (even if they are unrelated! That is ok, it give us insight to you...) ans share your stories! I tend to lean towards the clinical view of things- so some heartwarming tales of love are always appreciated!

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Sensory Processing ... Starting to develop?

Development of sensation is difficult to measure or test due to the inability of the infant to answer or respond to questions, limited physical abilities, etc.  However, many measures have been developed to assist in making assumptions about the amount of sensory information and perception of that information achieved by infants. 

Research indicates that by one month and infant has the ability to differentiate speech from other sounds and can visually scan an area, indicating they have visual perception (Gauvin, 2009).  In fact, by one week research shows that an infant can discriminate between black and gray from as far as one foot (Gauvin, 2009).  By eight months, the infant has 25% of visual ability of adults; however acuity increases with age and rate of development (Gauvin, 2009).  The perception of color develops post natal, rather than prenatal, and likely depends upon experience with color to discriminate or attribute information or constructs to it. 

Studies of sensory processing determine that by three months infants can remember specific stimuli and clearly see objects (Gauvin, 2009).  By six months facial recognition occurs.  Facial Recognition and preference also develops and is not prenatally occurring (Gauvin, 2009).  Research suggests a predisposition for facial features and characteristics, but it is widely assumed that preference and recognition is based on experience with faces, frequency of exposure, and the positive or negative attitudes associated with them (Gauvin, 2009).   During this period, visual acuity increases, as does, interest in sounds and audible stimuli (Gauvin, 2009).

By one year, infants are able to categorize objects by like features such as color, shape, etc.  Limited problems solving skills are emerging, the idea of consequences is being understood, and sequencing is occurring (Gauvin, 2009).

Valerie Poling


Gauvin, P. (2009). Child Psychology: A Contemporary Viewpoint, 7th ed. In C. U. HASOP, Psychology Human Prenatal Development (pp. 3-36). McGraw-Hill Primis.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Piaget and Cognitive Development Stages, interpetations, applications...

According to Piaget, humans are actively involved in their personal journey to knowledge and learning by their interactions with their environment, along with their responses to it (University of Texas). Piaget suggested four stages of Cognitive Development. The first stage is Sensorimotor which occurs from birth to age two, followed by Pre Operational from age two to six (University of Texas). The Concrete stage is third from age’s six to eleven ending with Formal from eleven on throughout life (University of Texas). Piaget relies on the idea that individuals are intrinsically wired to seek and learn from the stimuli around them, followed by incorporating the new information into their schemas and cognitive structures (University of Texas). Similarities exist between Piaget’s theory and contemporary Cognitive Theorists by assuming individuals are active in their own learning, the learning relies on associations between stimuli and that knowledge is structured or organized (University of Texas).

Piaget asserted that schemas, or the psychological structures that enable an individual to process and categorize stimuli around them, change through adaption and organization (Berk, 2008). Adaption is the schemas created from the interaction with the environment or stimuli and relies on assimilation and accommodation (Berk, 2008). Assimilation allows present schemas to interpret new stimuli or new learning while accommodation requires new schemas to be created in an attempt to explain the new stimuli (Berk, 2008). Organization involves the internal process of arranging and linking cognitive structures together to form networks (Berk, 2008).

According to Piaget, sensorimotor activity is the contributor to babies’ cognitive development (Berk, 2008). This cognitive development is occurring from birth to age two (Berk, 2008). This cognitive development occurs sequentially in stages beginning with Reflexive Schemas, followed by Primary Circular Reactions or simple motor activities involving the self (Berk, 2008). Secondary Circular Reactions emerge as imitation of familiar stimuli or behaviors followed by Coordination of Secondary Circular Reactions which is goal driven, intentional activities (Berk, 2008). Tertiary Circular Reactions are the exploration of new environments and Mental Representation are the ability to understand the properties of the stimuli even in the stimuli absence (Berk, 2008).

Although Piaget has some similar characteristics and values found in contemporary Cognitive Theories, there are also many contradictions. One concern with Piaget’s work is that he relied on his own children for observation, thus a small sample, biased research, and uncertain validity exists. Furthermore, the research assumes the Violation of Expectation method is valid. Violation of Expectation is a method that habituates babies to physical events then presents the baby with two new, novel events to observe. One event contains similarities or adheres to the same physical laws as the original event, while the alternate event violates the laws one would assume based on the original event. The idea is to measure the difference in time the infant spends looking at each. If the infant spends more time with the unexpected event, it is assumed the infant has an understanding of the concept relative to the original event (Berk, 2008). However, it may merely indicate an infant’s interest in new concepts (Berk, 2008). The measure can not infer total understanding of the concept, only awareness or familiarity (Berk, 2008). Furthermore, it may include variables outside of the basic concept that are appealing to the infant such as color, sound, etc. causing the longer gaze. It would also be difficult to generalize the findings to a larger population as it would have to account for experiences prior to the testing to ensure there are no further links or familiarity with the events presented.

Contradictions also exist in the idea of specific, age related stages of sensorimotor development. Piaget suggests mental representations are formed at about eighteen months; however research has found deferred imitation as early as six weeks (Berk, 2008). Recall has also been researched and tested by brain wave activity measuring ERP’s, and found to emerge at twelve to eighteen months (Berk, 2008).

Most learning theories assume that how individuals learn language is dependent upon their experience with that language (Hawley & Gunner, 2000). Although the actual learning of language may require only minimal interaction, the actual form of language is based upon experience with that specific form (Hawley & Gunner, 2000). Research has found that at three months, infants can distinguish hundreds of spoken sounds (Hawley & Gunner, 2000). The brain, however, adapts to the familiar language (Hawley & Gunner, 2000). Further research ahs found that mothers who spoke to their infants regularly had over two hundred more words by age two than children whose mothers rarely verbally interacted with actual words (Hawley & Gunner, 2000). It is also noted that television, radio, adult conversations being present do not yield the same results, inferring that the infant must actual have interaction with the language to obtain it (Hawley & Gunner, 2000).

The Core Knowledge Perspective attempts to counter Piaget’s theory and does not attribute all learning to experiences within the environment. Rather, the Core Knowledge Perspective assumes that individuals are born with cognitive abilities that enable the ability of processing new experiences and attaining learning (Berk, 2008) This ability is innate and exists free from experience. The premise for this theory is found in research that indicates infants have some understanding of object permanence, object solidity and gravity within the first few months of life (Berk, 2008). Core Knowledge Perspective also theorizes that language abilities and knowledge are predetermined before birth by utilizing innate abilities and understanding (Berk, 2008).

Although there are many criticisms of Piaget’s work, many Learning Theories still adhere to the basic fundamentals of his ideals. The premise that an individual learns through experience is widely assumed. The rate of learning, however, seems to be a point of contention between Piaget and other theories. The idea of predisposition for learning is also a consideration which does not adhere to Piaget’s assumptions. To make inferences from Piaget’s work would require further research in controlled environments with findings that can be validated and generalized.

Berk, L. (2008). Cognitive Learning. In L. Berk, Infants, Children and Adolescents (pp. 164-249). Boston: Pearson.
Hawley, T. P., & Gunner, M. P. (2000). Starting Smart. Retrieved January 29th, 2010, from Ounce of Prevention Fund and Zero to Three:
University of Texas. (n.d.). Cognitive Learning Theory from notes on Ormond's Human Learning. Retrieved January 28th, 2010, from Cognitive from Lynda Abbott:

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Two Contrasting Theories of Child Development, Learning, and Child Psychology...

Albert Bandura was of the school of Behaviorism, thus enabling him to
evolve the theories into what is now considered Social Learning Theory.
According to Bandura’s thought, the most influential form of instruction
is modeling the behavior (Berk, 2008). The primary focus for Social
Learning Theory is learning (Berk, 2008). Learning can be altered by
impairments in listening and processing, as well as, memory (Berk,
2008). However, the foundation of Social Learning Theory relies on the
concept of Behavior Modification (Berk, 2008). With Behavior
Modification positive reinforcement is used to encourage appropriate
responses and punishment or negative outcomes are the consequence of
undesirable behavior (Berk, 2008). Bandura did not subscribe to the
thought that all behavior was motivated by positive reinforcement;
rather he modified the concept to allow for learning behavior by
observed reinforcement of others. Bandura utilized the behavior
modification ideology and took it a step further by asserting that
children actually create a specific set of behavioral rules from what
they observe which enables self efficacy or expectations and beliefs
regarding their own behavior (Berk, 2008). These rules are reinforced by
observed rewards and punishment for the behavioral rules they perceive
(Berk, 2008). Therefore, children ultimately choose models for their own
behavior that emulate the perceived standards they have created (Berk,
2008). Furthermore, according to Bandura, as children engage in new
experiences, their perception of the world and the rules of behavior
evolve to consider this new information (Berk, 2008). One of the
downfalls of Social learning Theory is that it does not allow for
environmental influences to be a factor in behavior or learning (Berk, 2008)

The key to behavior modification is that it must
be consistent and appropriate to the task. As Bandura points out, skills
such as listening, processing, and memory can impair the learning
abilities. In the professional area of teaching adults with
developmental disabilities life skills, Social Learning theory is
utilized with behavior modification. The basic foundation of teaching
skills to individuals with cognitive delays, physical impairments, and
behavioral issues that interfere with daily life is to model new skills,
assist with these new skills whenever possible eventually fading to
independence with the skill, followed with reinforcement for completion
of the task. It is critical that the task requested be appropriate for
the individual level of functioning. As Bandura points out with his
theory, self efficacy, or expectations of self emerges, and if the
individual perceives that they have failed or unable to complete a task
or skill, they will develop a poor concept of self and abilities.
Whereas, if the tasks presented are small and within reach of the level
of functioning, once achieved, the individual will perceive themselves
as able to make accomplishments and learn.

Contrary to Social Learning Theory is Piaget's theory of Cognitive
Development. Piaget's theory focuses on the cognitive and intellectual
aspects of behavior ( Capella University, 2010). Cognitive Development
suggests that children learn through interaction with stimuli, not from
rewards or punishment received for new learning (Berk, 2008). Piaget
also claimed that in regards to intellectual growth, development occurs
in four distinct stages ( Capella University, 2010). The determinant for
the development is seen in how the child is able to receive, interpret,
and process new information ( Capella University, 2010). The first stage
occurs from birth to two and is coined Sensorimotor stage ( Capella
University, 2010). At this time of development the child relies on sense
to obtain information and conclusions are created from this input (
Capella University, 2010). The child is also able to understand object
permanence ( Capella University, 2010). From age two to seven, the child
engages in the Pre-operational stage ( Capella University, 2010). At
this time language emerges and the child is able to assign symbols and
representation to categorize and understand stimuli such as words,
images, numbers, etc. However, this classification is based on single
characteristic ( Capella University, 2010). The Concrete stage is
present from ages seven to eleven ( Capella University, 2010). The
child is able to recognize multiple characteristics of stimuli and
comprehend that one stimulus may be present in multiple categories (
Capella University, 2010). This suggests logical thinking and sequencing
( Capella University, 2010). Finally, from age eleven on is the Formal
stage in which the individual is able to utilize their own knowledge
base to form conclusions and to process abstract concepts ( Capella
University, 2010). Some of the opposition of Cognitive Development
Theory points out that individuals may develop at different rates, not
in set time frames as Piaget suggests. Furthermore, interaction with a
stimuli or familiarity with a stimulus may increase the skills with this
stimulus regardless of the cognitive stage of development.

Personal experience as a mother sways this writer against Piaget's
theory. This writer has observed many children in the day care class
whose skills vary tremendously, although in the same age group.
Furthermore, as opponents of Piaget s theory suggest, interaction with
certain skills will allow for increased knowledge and efficiency with
these tasks, regardless of age group. Children exposed to advanced
cognitive concepts on a regular basis begin to acknowledge and process
these concepts, forming constructs and placing them in their knowledge
base for future use. Furthermore, Piaget does not consider the cultural
influences that promote or impair learning. Exposure to academics and
learning environments increases the cognitive skills, whereas, children
with little stimulation will not have the experience with cognitive
stimuli reference for comprehension and understanding of concepts. A
child in a third world country without educational opportunities is not
going to share the same cognitive stage as a child who received early
childhood educational services and formal education.

References Capella University. (2010, January 11). Human Development
Theorists. Retrieved January 12, 2010, from Course Media Capella
http://meida.capella.-edu/CourseMedia/HumanDevelopmentTheorists Berk, L.
(2008). History, Theory, and Research Strategies. In L. Berk, Infants,
Children, and Adolescents (pp. 2-49). Boston: Pearson.

Valerie Poling

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Temperament .... Can you change it?

Many parents are concerned that when they first begin to understand their babies temperament that this is a reaction to them, or maybe there is something wrong with their child... Their baby is more fussy than other babies, their baby is less responsive or seems unattentive to things- But, Temperament is actually biologically linked- an innate characteristic of your baby! Some aspects can be modified, but it is more likely the parent is going to have to modify to the temperament- Here is a short discussion of the topic I recently wrote-

Temperament- Nature vs. Nurture How does the Caregiver fit in?

Temperament is the innate trait that mediates a child’s interactions and approach to their environment, and the social aspects within their world (Child Development Institute). Personality is formed from the interactions within the environment and the biological traits characteristic of that child (Child Development Institute). Temperament can be distinguished very early in development. These observations are of biologically linked behaviors that are individual and unique to that child (Sturm, 2004). Characteristics that are observable include fear, irritability, frustration, level of activity, positive approach and attentional persistence (Sturm, 2004).

Temperament is referred to as the building block of personality and can best be explained by use of a theoretical model (Sturm, 2004). The current model used dissects temperament into (Sturm, 2004). These dimensions are explained as emotional or Attentional Reactivity and Self Regulation (Sturm, 2004). Emotional and Attentional Reactivity is explained as the intensity and reaction to the external stimuli, while Self Regulation is the ability to accept and manage the personal reaction to the stimuli (Sturm, 2004). Attentional control, another dimension used to explain temperament, develops later in childhood (Sturm, 2004).

Temperament is based in the genetic makeup of the infant. Research has identified similar temperament of identical twins contrary to the findings in research of fraternal twins (Berk, 2008). Similarities in temperament characteristics can be determined across ethnic and gender populations (Berk, 2008). There is some consideration given to cultural and caregiver values in regards to their reactions to the child (Berk, 2008). For example, some caregiver reactions are gender biased in that the reactions differ based on the gender of the child (Berk, 2008). Similarly, cultural values towards parenting and reactions differ greatly. Asian parents react to their infants much differently than Native Americans (Berk, 2008). The cultural experience influences how affectionate, proximity, paternal involvement, etc. caregivers express in their child rearing practices (Berk, 2008). The cultural values also promote or impair the Goodness of fit in regards to care giving (Berk, 2008). Goodness of fit refers to eh ability of the caregiver to adapt their reactions to the temperament of the child (Berk, 2008).

Although temperament is observable with infants, it is most often measured in research through use of questionnaires, thus the risk of biased reporting is always a factor (Berk, 2008). Temperament shows some stability over time, however, situations also influence the stability of individual temperament characteristics (Sturm, 2004). Temperament appears to be modified by parenting skills, reactions to distress and other signals exerted by the infant, and the immediate familial environment of the child (Berk, 2008). Nutritional and emotional neglect can alter temperament, creating fearful, inattentive characteristics (Berk, 2008). These characteristics remain present even after an intervention has been implemented (Berk, 2008).

Temperament also develops with age; therefore any predictions relative to temperament should be postponed until the child is at least three years of age (Berk, 2008). This is largely due to the development of emotional, attentional and activity systems (Berk, 2008). For example, impulse control is thought to develop along with the frontal lobe development between ages two and three (Berk, 2008).

Temperament is a biologically based reactivity state of the child to stimuli within the environment. The characteristics of the temperament determine the eventual personality of the child and influence future outcomes. The temperament can be altered by both positive and negative caregiver reactions to the infant. The reactions of the caregiver can be linked to the cultural values the family is experiencing, or unique behaviors of the caregiver. A key component to understanding and addressing the child’s temperament is the acceptance of the temperament and ability to adapt the environment to best meet the child’s unique characteristics. Temperament may change with age, experiences, and biological development, but some characteristics may remain consistent throughout development for the child. Acceptance of the temperament characteristics and the view that these characteristics created the uniqueness for that child is imperative for the caregiver to acknowledge.

Valerie Poling


Berk, L. E. (2008). Temperament. In L. E. Berk, Infants, Children, and Adolescents (pp. 129-249). Boston: Pearson Publishing.

Child Development Institute. (n.d.). Temperament and Your Child's Personality. Retrieved January 30, 2010, from Child Development Institute:

Sturm, L. (2004, March). Temperament in Early childhood: A primer for the Perplexed. Retrieved January 28, 2010, from Zero to Three:

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