Approach and Positive Affect in Toddlerhood Predict Early Childhood Behavior Problems

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Abstract

The aim of the study was to examine the moderating role of positive affect on the relation between approach behaviors and adjustment outcomes. One hundred eleven toddlers participated in a laboratory assessment of approach and positive affect at 24 months. Behavior problems were reported by a parent in the fall of the child's kindergarten year. Results supported our hypotheses that children who displayed high approach and high positive affect in both non-threat and low-threat contexts were rated as higher in externalizing behavior problems. On the other hand, for children showing low positive affect, increases in approach in a moderate-threat context lowered the risk of developing internalizing behavior problems. Implications for these findings are discussed, including methodological considerations of differences among eliciting contexts and advantages of separating positive affect and approach.

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