Knowing Your Baby Matters: The Impact of Temperament Guidance Materials for Parents
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Past temperament guidance programs have been successfully utilized to improve caregiver understanding of temperament, foster responsivity in parent-child interactions, and teach strategies for appropriately responding to various temperament traits. No studies to date have examined the impact of simply providing brief psychoeducational temperament information to parents, nor have previous interventions utilized the psychobiological model of temperament as a frame for intervention, both evaluated in the present study. Parents of infants ages three to 12 months (n = 35) participated in a within-subjects repeated measures intervention examining the impact of the distribution of a comprehensive temperament brochure on temperament knowledge, attitudes toward the program, and goodness of fit (measured by examining multiple self-reported parenting stress domains and observed parent child interaction factors, including sensitivity, reciprocity, directedness, tempo, intensity, and emotional tone in both play and teaching tasks). Temperament brochures were provided within two weeks of the initial home visit, and parents were given approximately two weeks to review the brochure before being sent the final questionnaires and scheduling the final home visit. Parents demonstrated an increase in temperament knowledge and were generally accepting of the brief temperament program. Contrary to hypotheses, no changes in parenting stress were reported following the intervention; however, behavioral changes in parent-child interactions were observed. In the teaching task, increases in sensitivity were observed, and interactions shifted from more parent-directed to more balanced following the intervention. Differential utility effects were also observed in the context of the teaching task. Infant gender functioned as a moderator of intervention effects in two parent-child interaction domains. A significant increase in reciprocity was observed strictly for interactions between mothers and boys, with these interactions demonstrating significantly lower levels of reciprocity than interactions with girls prior to the intervention. Next, gender interacted with directedness, in that interactions became more balanced in interactions with female infants, but remained more parent directed with male infants. Finally, maternal education functioned as a moderator of tempo, insofar as mothers in the higher education group shifted from slower to moderate tempo following the intervention. Promising results suggest the need for continued implementation and evaluation of temperament-based interventions.