The aim of this study was to develop and evaluate a combined model of temperament assessment of children, differentiated by gestational age, and behavior in the interaction with their mothers. The sample included 10 children, five born full term and five born preterm, aged 18 to 36 months, and their mothers. Data collection was performed in their homes, through an interview with mothers in order to assess their children's temperament using The Early Childhood Behavior Questionnaire. The study also carried out a systematic observation of the mother-child interactions in a free-play situation. The data analysis of the interaction focused on the type of beginning of contact episodes, dynamics of activities, responsiveness, synchronicity, intrusiveness, anger/frustration and opposition. Results showed that the temperament of children born full term and preterm differed for the expression of Effort Control and Extroversion. Exchanges started by mothers were the most frequent ones in the interactions of both groups. There were more intrusive mothers and children showed more anger and opposition in dyads of children born preterm compared to dyads of children born full term. The assessment model was useful in order to identify the behavior profiles of children with typical development as well as prematurity in interactions with their mothers.
Temperament; mother-child interactions; premature birth