Infants’ temperamental anger or frustration reactions are highly stable, but are also influenced by maturation and experience. It is yet unclear why some infants high in anger or frustration reactions develop disruptive behavior problems whereas others do not. We examined family regularity, conceptualized as the consistency of mealtime and bedtime routines, as a protective factor against the development of oppositional and aggressive behavior. This study used prospectively collected data from 3136 families participating in the Generation R Study. Infant anger or frustration reactions and family regularity were reported by mothers when children were ages 6 months and 2–4 years, respectively. Multiple informants (parents, teachers, and children) and methods (questionnaire and interview) were used in the assessment of children’s oppositional and aggressive behavior at age 6. Higher levels of family regularity were associated with lower levels of child aggression independent of temperamental anger or frustration reactions (β = −0.05, p = 0.003). The association between child oppositional behavior and temperamental anger or frustration reactions was moderated by family regularity and child gender (β = 0.11, p = 0.046): family regularity reduced the risk for oppositional behavior among those boys who showed anger or frustration reactions in infancy. In conclusion, family regularity reduced the risk for child aggression and showed a gender-specific protective effect against child oppositional behavior associated with anger or frustration reactions. Families that ensured regularity of mealtime and bedtime routines buffered their infant sons high in anger or frustration reactions from developing oppositional behavior.

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Keywords Child disruptive behavior, Family regularity, Infant temperament, Prospective study
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Journal European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Rijlaarsdam, J, Tiemeier, H.W, Ringoot, A.P, Ivanova, M.Y. (Masha Y.), Jaddoe, V.W.V, Verhulst, F.C, & Roza, S.J. (2016). Early family regularity protects against later disruptive behavior. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 25(7), 781–789. doi:10.1007/s00787-015-0797-y