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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1990 Jun;18(3):317-34.

Early antecedents of childhood impulsivity: the role of parent-child interaction, cognitive competence, and temperament.

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Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-1346.


This prospective longitudinal investigation examined early mother-child interaction as a predictor of children's later self-control capabilities. Multimethod assessments of mother-child relationships, primarily focused on observed relationship qualities in the home, were conducted during the first 2 years and related to children's later impulse control capabilities. Child cognitive competence and temperament assessed during the 2nd year were also related to later impulsivity. Follow-up assessments of children's impulsivity were conducted at age 6 (N = 79), using a variety of laboratory measures. Findings indicated that responsive, cognitively stimulating parent-toddler interactions in the 2nd year modestly predicted later measures of cognitive nonimpulsivity and ability to delay gratification. Security of mother-infant attachment predicted the same outcomes, but only for boys and not for girls. Child cognitive competence in the 2nd year also consistently predicted children's later impulse control capabilities, although this was not true for measures of child temperament. Overall, the findings support a multidimensional and developmental conceptualization of the early antecedents of childhood impulsivity.

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