Early developmental precursors of impulsive and inattentive behavior: from infancy to middle childhood

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2002 May;43(4):435-47. doi: 10.1111/1469-7610.00035.


Background: We examined infancy and toddler-age precursors of impulsivity and inattention in school-age children. Children (50 boys, 39 girls) had been participants since infancy in the Bloomington Longitudinal Study.

Method: Individual differences in children's self-regulatory competence were assessed at 8 years of age, using laboratory tests and observations of three central constructs: Inhibitory Control, Behavioral Control, and Attentional Disengagement.

Results: We found that measures of caregiver-child interaction, child temperament, and child cognitive competence during the toddler period significantly predicted variations in children's later impulsive functioning. However, the strength of these relationships, and the type and combination of significant risk factors, were differentially patterned in relation to specific subtypes of later child impulsivity.

Conclusions: These data provide further evidence for the multidimensional nature of child impulsivity, and they highlight the importance of examining toddler-age precursors of children's later self-regulatory competence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior*
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk
  • Sex Factors
  • Temperament