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Relating child care during infancy to externalizing and internalizing behaviors in toddlerhood: How specific features of child care quality matter depending on a child's gender and temperament

This study explored whether the relationships between specific features of child care quality and externalizing and internalizing behaviors in 24-month-old children are moderated by gender and temperament. Questionnaires were used to record children's gender and measure their temperament. Child care quality was observed with the Echelles d'observation de la qualite educative (Educative Quality Observation Scale), an observation scale series based on the local specificities of the educational program mandated for Quebec's child care service. Externalizing and internalizing behaviors of each child were measured with the Child Behavior Checklist 2/3. Results confirm the moderation hypothesis of child gender and temperament in the relationship between child care quality and child behaviors for externalizing behaviors only; internalizing behaviors were predicted by child temperament and child care quality individually. The discussion stresses the significance of high levels of child care quality in order to ensure lower rates of externalizing behaviors among girls and temperamentally difficult children, as well as lower rates of internalizing behaviors among all children. These findings have practical implications in support of individualized educational practices under certain circumstances. Finally, the study provides empirical support for an ecological perspective in the study of the influence of child care quality on child outcomes. (author abstract)
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