Infant mood and parenting style can predict future behavior

July 9, 2008

Both the style of early parenting and an infant's temperament can predict behavior issues later in childhood, according to a recent study.

Both the style of early parenting and an infant's temperament can predict behavior issues later in childhood, according to a recent study.

Published in the online Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, the study assessed infant-mother interaction, as well as maternal reports of behavior during infancy and between the ages of 4 to 13, in 1,863 children.

The researchers found that fussy babies with unpredictable behavior (such as being hungry and tired at varying times every day) were more likely later in childhood to cheat, lie, or bully other children at school, or disobey their parents. Less fussy infants with more predictable moods were "at very low risk of future conduct problems," the investigative team stated.

In addition, infants who received a low amount of cognitive stimulation from their mothers were also more likely to have behavior problems later in childhood. The opposite was true of children whose mothers read to them and regularly spent time with them outside of their home during infancy.