How temperament matters: the Integrative Child Temperament Inventory

A child's temperament is as important in educational development as academic ability - a fact widely acknowledged by experts. Still, methods of assessing childhood temperament have been fragmented based on competing theories and a lack of common language.

The Integrative Child Temperament Inventory (ICTI) resolves this by bringing together the strongest points in theoretical child temperament research to date, supported by age-specific norm data. It is the first standardised and extensively-normed assessment of its kind in the UK.

Application of the ICTI

When a child is being tested in the context of an individual clinical assessment, a temperament profile cannot be considered in isolation and needs to be interpreted against the context in which the child is raised, as well as current and previous diagnostic status. With this in mind, the ICTI is intended to be completed by the child's parents, teachers or carers and can in principle be conducted without the presence of a test administrator.

The ICTI response booklet consists of 30 simply-formulated sentences concerning a child's behaviour. Rather than having 'behavioural anchors' in each step of the response scale, the behaviours are specified in the item, and the person rating the test is then asked to make a global judgement of perceived frequency of the behaviour.

Other factors in the assessment:

  • the test is scored and interpreted by a suitably-qualified professional
  • raw scores are converted to norm scores, revealing where the child is in relation to the sample, taking age and gender into account
  • interpretation is based on percentile rank scores, indicating what percentage of children in the norm sample obtained a score equal or inferior on the dimension in question

Prevention, intervention and treatment

The ICTI manual provides thorough guidance on the clinical significance of the individual temperament scales, as well as the clinical significance of a particular combination of scales and possibilities for interventions that can be put in place in the presence of 'at-risk' temperament traits.

Most scholars agree that in approaches to prevention and intervention, early-onset intervention is essential to the prevention of behaviour disorders, in particular externalising behaviours - but most current intervention programmes only target school-age children. One of the key advantages of the ICTI is that it can be applied as a screening tool for children as young as two years old. Identifying at-risk behavioural patterns earlier than has been possible to date has the potential to make prevention more effective.

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