The Synergy of Teacher-Child Dependency and Temperament for Children’s Early Language Skills

Kathleen Moritz Rudasill, Ibrahim Acar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Shy children are less likely to interact with peers and teachers, ask questions, and participate in classroom activities. Children low in attention and inhibitory control also perform worse academically. Although research indicates children’s relationships with teachers may be protective for children at risk for academic difficulties, less is known about the role of dependent teacher-child relationships and the consequences for learning. This study examines the interplay of inhibitory control, attention, shyness, and dependency as predictors of preschoolers’ expressive- and receptive-language skills. The sample is 104 children in 22 classrooms. Research Findings: Multilevel models revealed four findings. First, both parent and teacher ratings of children’s attention were positively associated with language skills. Second, the association between teacher ratings of shyness and children’s language skills was contingent on the level of teacher-child dependency. Third, teacher-child dependency was positively linked to more expressive-language skills in the teacher-report model. Fourth, dependency and inhibitory control worked synergistically in the parent-report model to predict expressive language. Results suggest that dependency may have protective aspects for some children in early childhood but could also be negative for other children. Practice and Policy: Teachers can organize their relationship style depending on child’stemperament to provide nurturing environment for children’s language skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)639-654
Number of pages16
JournalEarly Education and Development
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 4 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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