Defense mechanisms development in typical children

Psychother Res. 2010 Sep;20(5):535-45. doi: 10.1080/10503307.2010.493536.


The defense mechanisms (DMs) of 103 nonreferred children ages 47 to 102 months were assessed through dollhouse play. The authors measured the children's temperament (Temperament Assessment Battery for Children-Teacher Form [TABC]) and verbal capacities (Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence or Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children). Four main findings were derived: (1) DM use decreased with age with different developmental trajectories; (2) regression, displacement, and reaction formation were more frequent in girls and denial more frequent in boys; (3) the number of DMs used was negatively associated with the TABC Adaptability score and positively with the TABC Approach/Withdrawal score; and (4) children who used rationalization and did not use identification and suppression scored better on verbal capacities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Defense Mechanisms*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Development
  • Male
  • Psychological Tests
  • Sex Factors
  • Temperament
  • Wechsler Scales