NYU Medical’s 1956 longitudinal research team—including Stella Chess, MD; Dr. Alexander Thomas (married to Chess); along with others—was key in a pioneering study of temperament in over two hundred infants from birth to age of forty.
Team charts were created to help the parents decide which behaviors might be a problem, noting which were related to genes and could be modified in an acceptable direction. Their book Your Child is a Person goes into much more detail. Interestingly, lower income parents in the study tended to be less proactive, somewhat passively hoping the child would grow out of it.
Problem behaviors don’t always need to be modified. For example, a boy was a real kicker even in the womb. He ended up on the State soccer team!
As with many therapies, the beginning basics are a check of diet and lifestyle. For example is hyperactivity due to excess caffeine or chocolate? Next the child may be “interviewed”—focusing on the problem behavior and finding out what the child is feeling and believing. Analyzing these factors with the child can help to at least modify problem behavior.
Ron Elve (email@example.com) is tutoring and mentoring in the West Village.