The relationship a child has with his parents tells a lot about their personalities and behavior with fellow children, according to new research.
If the bond between parent and child is strong, the child is more likely to be a positive responsive playmate when it comes to meeting other children for the first time, according to a new University of Illinois study, published in Developmental Psychology.
The study also showed that a child's level of attachment security, their partner's tendency to become angry, and how well the children knew each other combined to predict a child's behaviour.
In the study, the researchers assessed the child-mother attachment relationships for 114 children at 33 months, and parents reported on their child's temperament. This included their social fearfulness and how prone they were to get angry.
At the age of three years and three months, children of the same gender were randomly paired with one another and observed at play three times, over a one-month period.
‘A child who has experienced a secure attachment relationship with caregivers is likely to come into a new peer relationship with positive expectations,’ says Nancy McElwain, a University of Illinois professor of human development.
McElwain added that when a child is paired with a peer who is quick to become frustrated or angry, the positive social expectations of a child with a secure attachment are dampened, leading them to adapt to the situation.
A more securely attached child was also more likely to use suggestions and requests rather than commands and intrusive behaviour (such as grabbing toys away) during play with an anger-prone peer during the first two playdate visits.
By the final visit, a child with a secure attachment had adjusted to the controlling assertiveness of her anger-prone partner by becoming more controlling herself.
But Professor McElwain added that difficult temperaments shouldn’t be confused with an insecure attachment to their parents.
‘You may have a fussy infant, but if you respond to him sensitively, he will develop a strong bond with his parents and will likely go on to enjoy positive, close relationships with others,’ she said.
What's your toddler's paydate personality? Let us know below.