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Self‐control in early childhood: individual differences in sensitivity to early parenting

Ng-Knight, Terry and Schoon, Ingrid (2020) Self‐control in early childhood: individual differences in sensitivity to early parenting Journal of Personality.

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This study extends existing research on the role of infant temperament as a moderator of the association between the quality of parent‐child relationships and children’s self‐control during the pre‐school years. In particular, we focus on the potential moderating role of a dimension of early infant temperament known as behavioural inhibition. Assumptions formulated within the diathesis‐stress, the vantage‐sensitivity and the differential susceptibility models of individual differences in environmental sensitivity are tested.


Data are from the Millennium Cohort Study, a nationally representative birth cohort of 18,552 infants born in the UK during 2000/01.


The results show that the quality of both mother‐child and father‐child relationships are associated with children’s development of self‐control in early childhood. Additionally, individual differences in infant temperament moderate the association between mother‐child conflict and children’s development of self‐control. Specifically, high behavioural inhibition shows a vantage‐sensitivity pattern for mother‐child conflict.


Aspects of both mothers’ and fathers’ relationships with their young children independently predict variations in self‐control. This study also provides an initial indication that behavioural inhibition, a temperamental trait best‐known for being a risk factor for anxiety, may provide small benefits in relation to young children’s self‐control development.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Psychology
Authors :
Schoon, Ingrid
Date : 30 September 2020
Funders : Jacobs Foundation, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
DOI : 10.1111/jopy.12595
Grant Title : Centre for Learning and Life-chances in the Knowledge Economies (LLAKES, Phase II)
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Uncontrolled Keywords : Self-control; Effortful control; Vantage-sensitivity; Differential susceptibility; Mother/father-child relationship; Temperament; Behavioural inhibition
Depositing User : Clive Harris
Date Deposited : 07 Oct 2020 16:39
Last Modified : 07 Oct 2020 16:39

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