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Close ties between parents and babies yield benefits for preschoolers
Date:2/6/2008

Having close ties with parents is obviously good for preschoolers, but what does that really mean? It means that the preschoolers are better able to control their own behavior by showing patience, deliberation, restraint, and even maturity.

Thats the finding of a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa and published in the January/February 2008 issue of the journal Child Development.

The researchers looked at 102 mostly white familiesmothers, fathers, and babieswho had volunteered for the study from the time the children were 7 months old until they were almost 4 and a half years old. Repeated observations were carried out in the families homes and in a laboratory. In the first two years, the researchers observed how parents and children related to each other, particularly whether they were in sync, picked up on each others cues, communicated well, and enjoyed each others company. In short, they gauged whether the parents and children had developed a close, positive, reciprocal, cooperative, and mutually responsive relationship.

When the children were 4 years and 4 months old, the researchers observed how the children responded when they were told not to do something by a parent when the parent then left the room. They also observed how the preschoolers did on tasks that called for self-regulationpatience, deliberation, restraint, and maturity of impulsessuch as being asked to hold a small piece of candy in their mouths without eating it.

The study found that children who had developed a close, positive, reciprocal, and mutually responsive relationship with their mothers in the first two years of their lives did much better in both respectsresponding to their mothers requests not to do something and regulating their own behavior--than children who hadnt developed such ties.

The researchers also explored how mutually responsive relationships between mothers and children worked. When mothers an
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Contact: Andrea Browning
abrowning@srcd.org
202-289-7905
Society for Research in Child Development
Source:Eurekalert

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