Thursday, December 03, 2009

Guiltless, fearless and lawless - disregarding rules in young children

Some children seem to break rules without experiencing either guilt or a fear of punishment. A team of researchers, led by Amelie Petitclerc from University College Dublin, looked into this issue in a sample of 1,942 children studied from when they were 5 months to when they were just over six. They found that 4.3% of the children showed a chronic disregard for rules. This was more likely if they were boys, if their mothers had had a history of antisocial behaviour or if their mother or father had experienced depression shortly after they were born. A child's difficult temperament, or the kind of parenting they experienced at 5 months did not influence how much they disregarded rules later, once other risk factors had been taken into account.

Petitclerc, Amelie ... [et al] - Disregard for rules: the early development and predictors of a specific dimension of disruptive behavior disorders Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry December 2009, 50(12), 1477-1484

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