Differential susceptibility to discipline: The moderating effect of child temperament on the association between maternal discipline and early childhood externalizing problems

J. van Zeijl, J. Mesman, M.N. Stolk, L.R.A. Alink, M.H. van IJzendoorn, M.J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, F. Juffer, H.M. Koot

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Abstract

This study investigated the interaction of child temperament and maternal discipline in the prediction of externalizing problems in early childhood. Interaction effects were evaluated in a sample of 227 one- to three-year-old children with relatively high externalizing problems scores on the Child Behavior Checklist/11/2-5. Child temperament was reported by the mothers, maternal discipline was observed in a laboratory session, and child outcome measures included both mother-reported externalizing problems and observed physical aggression. Results indicate that children with difficult temperaments are more susceptible to negative discipline (i.e., they showed more externalizing problems) as well as more susceptible to positive discipline (i.e., they showed fewer externalizing problems and less physical aggression), as compared with children with relatively easy temperaments. These findings provide empirical evidence for the differential susceptibility hypothesis and suggest directions for enhancing the effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing early childhood externalizing problems. © 2007 American Psychological Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-636
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Volume21
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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