Parents often fear that kids who are difficult as babies will tend to be behind easy going kids when they start school. Now however, a study has found good parenting can make all the difference to how well a kid does in school.
The study was conducted at Indiana University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Anne Dopkins Stright, associate professor of human development at Indiana University, led the research.
As a part of the study, Stright and her colleagues followed infants from birth to first grade.
When the infants were six months old, their mothers filled out a questionnaire on their babies' temperament.
Children who did not respond well to new situations and people, were very active, had intense emotions, cried a lot, and did not adapt well were classified as having difficult temperaments.
The researchers observed mothers' parenting (specifically, mothers' warmth and age-appropriate control) six times from infancy to first grade.
When the children reached first grade, their teachers filled out questionnaires on the children's adjustment to school, including their academic competence; social skills such as cooperation, assertion, and self control; and relationships with teachers and peers.
When these questionnaires were analysed, the researchers found that kids whose mothers provided excellent parenting had as good or better grades, social skills, and relationships with teachers and peers as first graders who were less difficult as infants, and who had also received excellent parenting from their moms.
"The key to first-grade adjustment for both difficult and easy infants was good parenting," said Anne Dopkins Stright
"This study may have important implications for early intervention, in that early identification of difficult temperament during infancy may help to more effectively plan and implement interventions," according to Stright.
"For example, physicians can identify parents who perceive their children as temperamentally difficult in infancy and refer these parents for supportive services.
"The findings also provide support for parents of difficult infants. These infants may exhaust and frustrate their parents, but with high-quality parenting, these infants may become the most academically competent and socially skilled students in the first grade, compared to infants who are easier to parent."