The nursing staff

It was a problem to get the baby to feed. His blood sugar was low and it was decided to feed him sugar water every few hours. The mother had problems breastfeeding as Chris had difficulty with sucking. The staff explained that Chris was a Dysmature baby. This means immature development of the placenta so that normal function does not occur. It also would mean that he had low fat and sugar stores. During the three weeks that the mothers placenta did not work, the baby had lost weight and had very low energy stores. He was a bundle of nerves when awake and slept very soundly when asleep. The nursing staff would have to rouse him for his feed. The parents were naturally very concerned at his behaviour and appearance and felt at fault for it. This was heightened when the staff questioned the mother as to whether she had been smoking, drinking, or taking any dugs whilst pregnant.

These two babies have very different beginnings. As a result of their birth experiences, the parents and medical staff reacted in a different way. With Robert, the atmosphere was relaxed and happy. The baby was put on his mothers tummy. He was allowed to relate to his parents without medical intervention. Robert was calm and content. With Chris, straight away the atmosphere was tense with the staff taking him to check him over. He was irritated and unhappy. Chris did not like to be handled and almost seemed to reject his parents.

The first impression Roberts parents had was that Robert was happy and they were doing things the right way. With Chris there was concern that things had ‘gone wrong’ , that he did not want to be treated in the normal way. Such first impressions can be long lasting. Although the report does not state how the babies were when they grew up, it can already be seen that the attitude to these babies differ. Compare how stressed the medical team seemed to be with Chris to how relaxed they were with Robert. The parents, naturally followed suit. Once the babies are home any anxieties will heighten without the support of the nursing staff. Robert may well be treated with a confident hand, while Chris may be treated as ‘difficult’. This would be due to his poor start and general nervousness of his nature. (book one, Chapter five and associated readings.)

This could be illustrated by using a transactional model. In 1991 Sameroff developed a transactional model of development. He claimed that a difficult birth may cause a mother to become anxious. This anxiety in turn may cause her to be hesitant and unsure of her actions around the baby. Subsequently the baby may react to that by have problems with eating and sleeping. These problem may appear to be a difficult temperament. Locked in this spiral, the mother in turn may withdraw from the child and be reluctant to spend time with the baby. Without sufficient adult support the child may suffer from delayed speech and other activities. The framework is not without problems. The nine dimensions cannot be confirmed as aspects of temperament. It is possible that there are fewer than nine dimensions. Perhaps two of the dimensions could be together as one.

Hubert et al concluded that the nine dimensions are not all independent from each other and that there are fewer dimensions to temperament. Buss and Plomin decided to rework their own dimensions for temperament. Buss and Plomin based their work on Hans Eysenck. He had the theory that temperament had two dimensions, extraversion, and neuroticism. Obviously these are difficult to apply to infants. Buss and Plomin concentrated on adults personality. They devised the EAS framework, Emotionality, Shyness and Sociability.

Kagan’s theory is entirely different. He shied away from the traditional dimension theories. Kagan et al studied children by their response to unfamiliar events and people. This was termed as inhibition to the unfamiliar. Kagan’s theory differs from Thomas and Chess and Buss and Plomin. Whilst they see temperamental differences along continuum, Kagan et al see the qualitative distinction between temperament types. Kagan measures psychophysiological reactivity such as heart rate, heart rate variability, pupil dilation, and cortisol secretion. However, children do not always stay the same. A child that starts off shy and retired can overcome this and gain more confidence.

Dunn and Kendrick concentrated more on the social aspect. For instance the arrival of a new sibling can alter temperament. By measuring temperament before and after the arrival of a sibling, they could see how a child would react. It is also dependant on the relationship between mother and older sibling. If a child was anxious before the sibling arrived then it would be more so after. Social setting is also consistent to the behaviour of the child.

Lerner et al has done extensive research with goodness of fit. The goodness of fit looks at the characteristics of a person and the social environment. For instance a child who is not very adaptable would be best suited to parents of a strict timetable and regime. If the ‘fit’ is not right and they parents are more haphazard in their care, the child will experience problems.


So to return to the original question, does temperament affect development? There are many different way to evaluate temperament. Thomas and Chess use nine- dimension framework, while Buss and Plomin use three. Kagan and Dunn and Kendrick use more social framework. A different and interesting approach is Lerner et al and the ‘goodness of fit’. This can also be seen as a social approach. If you use Sameroff transactional model it is obvious that temperament affects the attitude of the main care giver. Thus it is possible to have an effect on development. If a child is seen as having a difficult temperament the main care giver tends to withdraw and have less contact. This in turn will affect how quickly and easily the child can be influenced by adults.

Is it possible that temperament can affect child development? First I will define temperament. Then I will look at case studies to see if temperament affected the child’s development. I will be looking at the work of M. Rutter and …

Describe how temperament has been defined and studied by developmental psychologists. With reference to relevant research and theory, discuss the relationship between children’s temperament and their early development. From the moment infants are born, they differ form one another in the …

While in hospital a patient’s medication can be established, it can also give opportunity for nursing staff to assess and give advice on the problems which the patient is encountering. Harrison (2000) However for the patient hospitalisation may prove to …

Internet and E-mail: Many patients now access their primary care provider’s office on-line, and countless practices allow patients to contact the office staff via Email. (Abrahamsen, 2003) In addition, some offices offer Web sites. When surveyed, most patients requested recommendations …

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