The role of temperament in the development of children's personalities and behaviour has been the subject of enquiry for decades. Difficult temperament includes features such as negative emotionality and mood, high reactivity, and fearfulness. Ratings of difficult temperament tend to be quite stable during infancy and early childhood and studies have shown links between difficult temperament, measured early in life, and later behaviour problems especially when other risk factors are present. A U.S. study of 985 children examined the links between difficult temperament, parenting styles and bad behaviour in the first year of school life. Three aspects of parenting style were assessed: harshness, sensitivity, and the opportunities the children were given for productive behaviour. The researchers found stronger relations between maternal sensitivity and bad behaviour and opportunities for productivity and bad behaviour in the children with difficult temperaments. Harsher parenting was associated with a fall in problem behaviour in the first grade but this was not found to be statistically significant. Those children with difficult temperaments whose mothers were sensitive to them and who gave them more opportunities to engage in productive activity were better behaved in the first grade.
Bradley, Robert H. and Corwyn, Robert F. - Infant temperament, parenting, and externalizing behavior in first grade: a test of the differential susceptibility hypothesis Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry February 2008, 49(2), 124-131