Temperament and parenting during the first year of life predict future child conduct problems

J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2008 Nov;36(8):1139-58. doi: 10.1007/s10802-008-9247-3.


Predictive associations between parenting and temperament during the first year of life and child conduct problems were assessed longitudinally in 1,863 offspring of a representative sample of women. Maternal ratings of infant fussiness, activity level, predictability, and positive affect each independently predicted maternal ratings of conduct problems during ages 4-13 years. Furthermore, a significant interaction indicated that infants who were both low in fussiness and high in predictability were at very low risk for future conduct problems. Fussiness was a stronger predictor of conduct problems in boys whereas fearfulness was a stronger predictor in girls. Conduct problems also were robustly predicted by low levels of early mother-report cognitive stimulation when infant temperament was controlled. Interviewer-rated maternal responsiveness was a robust predictor of conduct problems, but only among infants low in fearfulness. Spanking during infancy predicted slightly more severe conduct problems, but the prediction was moderated by infant fussiness and positive affect. Thus, individual differences in risk for mother-rated conduct problems across childhood are already partly evident in maternal ratings of temperament during the first year of life and are predicted by early parenting and parenting-by-temperament interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Conduct Disorder* / diagnosis
  • Conduct Disorder* / epidemiology
  • Conduct Disorder* / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Observer Variation
  • Parenting*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Temperament*
  • Young Adult