Influences of attachment, temperament, and emotional development on preschool children's behavior
Altamura, Vivian O.
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The primary goal of this cross-sectional study was to explore the relationships among preschool-aged children's attachment representations, temperament, emotion understanding, emotion regulation, and behavioral competencies, broadly defined as externalizing and internalizing behavior. It was expected that children's attachment representations and their temperament, both independently and concurrently, would be predictive of children's externalizing and internalizing behavior. In addition, this study assessed the potential mediating role of children's emotional development on the relationship between their attachment representations and temperament and their behavioral competencies. Fifty-eight children (ages 3 to 5) from the New York City metropolitan area completed the Attachment Story Completion Task, Affect Knowledge Test, and Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-III. In addition, guardians completed a demographic questionnaire, the Children's Behavior Questionnaire-short version, the Emotion Regulation Checklist, and the Child Behavior Checklist. Results revealed that the security of preschool children's attachment representations was significantly related to children's emotional understanding and behavioral competencies. However, preschool children's attachment representations did not predict a significant portion of the variance of any major outcome variables. Conversely, preschool children's temperament was significantly related to numerous areas of children's emotional development and behavioral competencies, and predicted a significant portion of the variance of both internalizing and externalizing behavior. Furthermore, mediation analysis revealed that emotion regulation was approaching significance as a mediator of the relationship between the effortful control factor of children's temperament and internalizing behavior. Notably, these results remained significant after controlling for the influence of various demographic variables, including age, language development, and guardian's education. Discussion focused on the need for more research on attachment representations in preschool children, the role of temperament and emotional development on preschool children's behavioral competencies, the clinical implications of findings, and suggested directions for future research.