***Please note that recruitment for this study was completed in Winter 2014.
This study looked at the individual roles that mothers and fathers play in the development of children’s social adaptation skills during the preschool years. This study looked at the quality of parent and child interactions in the family home as well as in an unfamiliar place.
There is a lack of information regarding the separate influences of mothers and fathers in the development of a child’s social skills during the preschool years. During these years children often need to adjust to new social environments (i.e. daycares) and it is believed that this research on social skill development will help researchers and parents better understand how children adjust to these new environments.
Our study required the participation of mom, dad, and the child, so all three had to be willing to participate. We had ask for participation over 3 separate visits, each of which lasted approximately one hour and a half to two hours. The first two visits took place in our lab, and only differ in that for one visit mom came with the child, and for the other visit dad accompanied the child (the order in which parents came had already been randomly selected by us). Because the child was present for both of these visits, we required 4 to 6 months between the first and second lab visit to ensure that the child was “forgetting” the exact details of the previous visit. Both lab visits consisted of the same content: a free play session and a brief separation during which the parent would leave the child for 5 minutes in the room to play on his or her own. Additionally, we asked parents to complete a few questionnaires while the child completed a story telling task with one of our research assistants. All of the child’s interactions were videotaped.