Child Care Choices is a study which follows 670 children for six years from child care through to school.
And as is often the case the study tells us some things we probably already know. That for example, those children who showed early signs of behaviour problems were at risk of continuing to do so. This makes intuitive sense, but just why it is so is not so intutive. Both research and experience suggest ‘reputations’ can have la ong-lasting adhesive quality to them. Once a person has a reputation, it is hard to get rid of. A reputation, including a view simply held by a few close and significant people (parents for instance), can stick and stick for a long time. And we have long talked about the idea of a self-fulfilling prophecey. And there is research too that tells us we tend to get what we look for, that expectations as much as anything else are likely to determine what we see and what we get. And just off to the side of this, I am always intrigued by the old research about soldiers from the USA fighting in the Vietnam war, and how levels of heroin ‘addiction’ were high amongst them while in Vietnam but dropped right back when the soldiers returned to America. So we do know that circumstances can massively effect our behaviour, and that changing those circumstances can lead to massive changes in behaviour. And part of changing circumstances – because most children are unlikely to be able to switch countries – which just might lead to a shift in the expected behaviour, or heading it off altogether, might just be looking at the views and expectations surrounding the ones who seem headed for trouble.