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Early non-parental care and toddler behaviour problems: Links with temperamental negative affectivity and inhibitory control

This longitudinal study examined the link between multiple aspects of early non-parental care and internalizing and externalizing behaviour at 30 months of age. We also examined whether this link was mediated by children's inhibitory control and moderated by early temperamental negative affectivity. Participants were 193 mothers and their infants (91 girls; 79 firstborn). Negative affectivity was measured with a temperament questionnaire at 3 months of age. Information on non-parental care (i.e. centre-based care, number of hours, number of concurrent arrangements, long-term instability of care and age of entry) was obtained through monthly maternal interviews across the first year of life. At 30 months of age, toddlers' inhibitory control was measured with observational tasks, and behaviour problem questionnaires were completed by the mothers and the caregivers. The mediation model was not supported. Greater observed inhibitory control, however, was related to less caregiver-reported internalizing and externalizing behaviour. Furthermore, negative affectivity moderated the effect of early non-parental care on behaviour problems. Non-parental care was unrelated to behaviour problems in toddlers who displayed low or mean levels of negative affectivity as infants. For infants high in negativity, however, centre-based care was associated with higher mother-rated internalizing and externalizing problems. In sum, the link between aspects of non-parental care during the first year of life and toddlers' behaviour problems was not mediated through inhibitory control. Instead, inhibitory control and non-parental care, in conjunction with negative affectivity, appear to be two independent predictors of toddlers' internalizing and externalizing behaviour. (author abstract)
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