This summarized article is about how social gender norms are conveyed in direct and indirect messaged from the parents on their children. 

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      Article Summaries with the course Observatie van interacties binnen gezinnen (Observation of interactions within families) - Pedagogy Year 3 - University Leiden

      Article Summary of Context Matters: Maternal and Parental Sensitivity to Infants in Four Settings - Branger et al. - 2019

      Article Summary of Context Matters: Maternal and Parental Sensitivity to Infants in Four Settings - Branger et al. - 2019

      What is this article about?

      This article is about parental sensitivity to their infants in different contexts and to what degree the context of the situation plays a role in the displayed sensitivity.

      Parental sensitivity is defined by the parents’ ability to interpret and react according to their children’s signals, resulting in positive outcomes in the child, including attachment security and adaptive cognitive development. Parental sensitivity is usually measured by short observations in a broad range of settings. It is not yet examined how the different settings might influence parental sensitivity, even though many different settings have been used for observation so far. Little is known about the stability and consistency of parental sensitivity across different contexts. Furthermore, the question arises if mothers are more sensitive to their children’s needs compared to fathers.

      This is what this study will focus on.

      How has the study been conducted?

      Dutch expecting parents were asked to participate in this study. 132 couples joined the prenatal assessment, 119 a follow-up 4-months assessment.

      During the 4-months assessment, both parents have been observed separately, but with the exact same amount of observations.

      The parents were video taped with their infant during 4 settings. A free play on the parent’s lap or on the floor, a SFP baseline, a SFP reunion and a routine caregiving task.

      SFP is a so called Still-Face Paradigm, a stress inducing factor in interaction with infants.

      During the first task, parents played with their infant for 5 minutes, without a toy. During the SFP tasks, parent and infant first interacted as they would usually do, followed by a “still face episode”, in which the parent kept a neutral face and gave no response to the infant. After this "still face episode" a reunion followed, in which the parent interacted with the infant again. The last task consisted of a caregiving task, such as bathing or changing diapers.

      What are the results of this study and how can they be interpreted?

      Overall, parents who were more sensitive in one context, also showed higher sensitivity in the other three contexts. The highest correlation was shown between the two SFP tasks, but this is logical since both tasks are part of the same overall task. There was no significant difference in sensitivity between mother and father in all four settings.

      The mean score of sensitivity during the caregiving task was higher compared to during free play. Sensitivity was the lowest during the SFP tasks.

      It can be assumed that the amount of experience with a task influences the parents’ sensitivity. In less experienced contexts it is more difficult to pick up and correctly interpret the signs of the infants. Furthermore, this study showed that there are no differences in sensitivity between more
      Article Summary of Methodological Issues in the Direct Observation of Parent-Child Interaction: Do Observational Findings Reflect the Natural Behavior of Participants? - Gardner - 2000

      Article Summary of Methodological Issues in the Direct Observation of Parent-Child Interaction: Do Observational Findings Reflect the Natural Behavior of Participants? - Gardner - 2000

      What is this article about?

      The aim of this review is to examine the utility and validity of direct observation as a research technique in family interaction and behavior in family setting.

      Direct observational research is used to gather information about typical behavior of the participants. However, participants are often required to engage in unusual settings, such as a laboratory, or to engage in certain behaviors on the researcher's demand. Furthermore, knowing that the behavior will be observed can influence the participants' behavior. Therefore, the validity and utility of direct observational techniques is often questioned.

      Where does direct observational technique comes from?

      To assess children’s social behavior, systematic observational techniques were first developed in the 1930s within the school setting. Hereby, psychometric issues were taken into consideration as well. Specialized on the nature of parent-child interaction, a coding system for observational technique was developed in the 1970s. Many of the systems that were developed during this time are still used.

      What are the advantages and disadvantages of observational methods?

      One advantage of using direct observations of parent-child interaction is they can be carried out at the participants' homes. It is unknown whether or not an unusual setting, such as laboratory circumstances, would impact parent-child interaction. Observations are limited to private settings, as public spaces can be an additional stress factor for parents.

      Direct observations provide information about real behavior, such as shouts or hugs. The definition of such behavior of interest is devised by the researcher rather than the parent in order to avoid personal bias. Direct observations can also be useful in planning and evaluation interventions. Some behavior might only be observed through direct observation, rather than through self-report, as the behavior might be automatic and fast. Furthermore, observable behavior is objective, whereas self-reports reflect the perception of the participants.

      On the other hand, the time-consuming nature of direct observations reflects the technique’s major drawback. This includes training observers, carrying out the observation itself, coding the more
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      Article Summary of Mary Ainsworth’s legacy: a systematic review of observational instruments measuring parental sensitivity - Mesman et al. - 2013

      Article Summary of Mary Ainsworth’s legacy: a systematic review of observational instruments measuring parental sensitivity - Mesman et al. - 2013

      Who is Mary Ainsworth and what is reviewed in this article?

      Mary Ainsworth researched a lot in the field of maternal sensitivity and contributed valuable results to the knowledge of parenting and child development. She contributed to the design and development of the Sensitivity-Insensitivity to Infant Signals and Communications scale, as part of the Maternal Care scales, based on the attachment theory. Most importantly, she introduced the concept of maternal sensitivity itself. Her work is still used in todays research. However, new measurements to measure parental sensitivity have been designed since then and also the construct sensitivity has been variously formulated and defined in the past years of research. Additionally, the focus of the target group, participants' age and observational settings varied in past research, contributing to differences in measurements and concept definition.

      This systematic review aims to provide an overview of observational instruments that have been used to measure parental sensitivity. Furthermore, these instruments will be analyzed and compared to the original construct definition of Mary Ainsworth. Her definition of parental sensitivity requires the parents to notice the child’s signals, to interpret those signals correctly, and to respond to those signals in a prompt and appropriate manner. This definition refers to the acts of contingent responding, proximity to the child and appropriate parental interventions, as universal aspects of caregiving. Positive affect and warmth is not listed in her definition of sensitive parenting, but a specific scale was developed for this purpose.

      Ainsworth’s studies were conducted by an observant in natural settings and based on naturalistic interactions, often at home of the observed families. It was mostly focused on mothers, as it was common at this time. Even though her scale has been used in non-Western countries, her studies were focused on observing Western families.

      In the systematic review of this article, only global rating scales were examined and compared to Ainsworth’s scale.

      How was the systematic review conducted?

      Web of Science was used to search for literature regarding observational instruments, with help of keywords. After excluding irrelevant papers, 1014 papers were further screened for the use of global instruments of parental sensitivity, leaving 50 relevant papers for this study.

      Eight instruments were found to be used most often in those publications.

      A coding system for all eight scales was developed. The coded characteristics are:

      1. Availability of the instrument
      2. Age range for which the instrument was applicable
      3. The observational setting
      4. If the scale was used to code father sensitivity as well
      5. If the scale has been used on non-Western countries as well
      6. The inclusion of a single sensitivity scale and a composite sensitivity scale
      7. Whether positive affect and warmth is included in the construct definition of sensitivity more
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      Article Summary of The Influence of mothers’ and fathers’ sensitivity in the first year of life on children’s cognitive outcomes at 18 and 36 months - Malmberg et al. - 2015

      Article Summary of The Influence of mothers’ and fathers’ sensitivity in the first year of life on children’s cognitive outcomes at 18 and 36 months - Malmberg et al. - 2015

      What is this article about?

      It has been well established in previous research that the relationship of parents and their children is very important, not only for the current well-being of the child, but also for later cognitive and language development. However, it is not well researched yet which aspects of parent-child interaction evoke a higher cognitive development and which interventions can be used to enhance this effect. Hereby, the mother-child and the father-child relationship are also of importance in this development. Additionally, it would be interesting to learn more about the differences between mother-child relationships and father-child relationships. Similarities in physiological responses to their child, but differences in behavioural responses have been found in previous research, suggesting that those differences might contribute to differences later on in the development of the children.

      Previous studies focused more on the effect of parental sensitivity on the attachment style rather than on the children’s cognitive development. This study aims to investigate whether and to what extent parental sensitivity influences cognitive development and if one parents’ sensitivity.

      How was this study conducted?  

      A total of 97 families were recruited for this study and asked to video-tape the separate interactions of fathers and mothers with their children.

      The video taped interactions had to fulfill specific requirements. There were in total five segments of 2 and a half minutes of play time with the following instructions/stimuli: free play without toys, exploration of an age-appropriate book, stacking a ring toy, a wooden shaped toy and a battery musical toy. Each toy was shared by the parents with their children. Mother-child interactions and father-child interactions were conducted and observed separately by different observers. This interaction was measured at the time of the child’s age of 10 month.

      A follow-up assessment was conducted at the age of 18 months and of 36 months. The Bayles Scale of Infant Development II and Reynell Developmental Language Scale was used to assess the children’s developmental outcomes.

      What are the results and how can they be interpreted?

      Overall, maternal and paternal sensitivity were found to be related to the child cognitive development in the outcome of this study. Socio-demographic factors were included in the analysis but did not influence the results.

      Furthermore, the findings of this study suggested that one parent’s sensitivity can balance a lower sensitivity of the other parent out. Another interesting finding is that father’s sensitivity was stronger related to children’s cognitive development compared to the mother’s sensitivity. This does not align with findings of other studies and should be further investigated by future studies.

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      Article Summary of The Dualistic Role of Child Noncompliance: Normal Developmental Process and Indicator of Child Psychology - Livesay & Roberts - 2020

      Article Summary of The Dualistic Role of Child Noncompliance: Normal Developmental Process and Indicator of Child Psychology - Livesay & Roberts - 2020

      What is this article about?

      The study aims to investigate factors and effect of children’s (non-)compliance. There is no doubt about the importance of a certain amount of compliance among children, which has also been reported by developmental psychologists. Hereby, the age groups plays a role since children with a regular cognitive, linguistics and motor development can be expected to show compliance at the age of four. Compliance is seen as an important factor in socialization of children. Compliance covers a broader spectrum than children following their parent’s direct instructions. In most studies is the ability to perform a task not measured, but the children’s willingness and motivation.

      Continued non-compliance in a child has been embraced as a risk factor for psychopathy, defined by developmental symptoms. The diagnosis of continued non-compliance often relies on the parents’ report, due to the difficulties to observe a 6-month old child. As with every diagnosis, it has to be dealt with caution, since a diagnosis can influence care service and reimbursement.

      In the study of this article, the developmental transition of (non-) compliance at home was investigated.

      How was the study conducted?

      For the study, 40 families with children who met the inclusion criteria were recruited and equally divided into four age groups (2.0-2.9 years, 3.0-3.9 years, 4.0-4.9 years and 5.0-5.9 years). Children with a diagnosis of any sorts were excluded. The parents had to fill out the Aggression Behaviour Subscale. Subsequently, 4 families were excluded of this study.

      In the beginning, all parents had to complete the Child Behaviour Checklist. Parents participated in Behaviour Record Card training in a seperate room from their children. The following two weeks, the parents were required to record any noncompliance of their children with help of the Behaviour Record Card.

      After the 2-week period, the cards were returned to the researcher and an accuracy test was conducted. During this test, the parents were shown videos of a scripted parent-child interaction. The participants were asked to fill out their cards according to how they would rate the behaviour of the child in the video.

      What were the results of the study?

      Results of this study showed that an average of non-compliance did not occur among children until the age of 5. This finding is consistent with other developmental psychological studies, finding reduction in non-compliance after the age of 4.

      Analyzing the Behaviour Record Card together with occurring symptoms classified under Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), revealed that 37 out of 40 children showed symptoms of symptomatic level of non-compliance, according to the DSM 5. This is surprising since diagnosed children and children with high scores of aggression were excluded from this study.

      Analyzing these results is difficult since no norm exists to compare the results to. Reported results rely mostly on parental rating and reports. A more
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      Article Summary of The Interplay of Maternal Sensitivity and Gentle Control When Predicting Children’s Subsequent Academic Functioning: Evidence of Mediation by Effortful Control - Kopystynska et al. - 2016

      Article Summary of The Interplay of Maternal Sensitivity and Gentle Control When Predicting Children’s Subsequent Academic Functioning: Evidence of Mediation by Effortful Control - Kopystynska et al. - 2016

      What is this article about?

      The study in this article aimed to research the relationship between a mothers sensitivity and gentle control on the children’s effortful control (EC) and academic functioning.

      The idea of this study developed based on the attempt to understand children’s early scholastic adjustment, including school enjoyment, classroom engagement and academic performance.

      Previous research revealed children who enjoy going to school showed a better academic performance, better social skills and a lower risk of developing mental health problems. In order to increase children’s positive attitude towards school, it is beneficial to understand the influential factors of it. The influential factors can include environmental factors, teacher-child relationship and parenting behaviour. One aspect of parenting behavior is maternal gentle control.

      The term gentle control describes a supportive, power de-emphasizing and non-coercive parental style with clear expectations setting and provision of constructive guidance to increase the children’s autonomy.

      Despite lack of empirical research, it is suggested that maternal gentle control impact children’s early school adjustment due to the way they are guided through chores and activities in early years. Additionally, the purpose of chores and social activities are more likely to be explained to the children. During school years, gentle control can be applied to age-appropriate strategies, including later curfews and bedtime routine. This might contribute to internalizing the importance of academics for children.

      Recent research found children’s EC increased their academic functioning. EC can be defined as the ability to pay attention to something and to either inhibit a dominant response and/or activate a subdominant response and to recognize errors. It usually emerges in the first year of life and develops further. A high level of EC has shown to predict high social competence and academic achievements. This could be due to children with high EC often aiming for harmonic teacher-child relationships, which are beneficial for school enjoyment. Furthermore, they often show more disciplined classroom behaviour.

      How was this study conducted?

      The study of this article was part of a larger longitudinal research project. Recruited participants were mothers and their children. They were invited to the laboratory for the observational assessment.

      The mothers' gentle control and sensitivity were observed, as well as the level of EC displayed by their children. Additionally, the mothers had to fill out a questionnaire and teachers were asked to fill out a questionnaire about the academic functioning of the child.

      What were the results of this study and how can they be explained?

      The results of this study suggest that supportive parenting behavior, of which maternal gentle control and maternal sensitivity are a part, predicts high level of EC among their children. In turn, a high level of EC can benefit and increase children’s academic functioning during the transition phase to elementary school. However, the nature of more
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      Article Summary of Development of the responsiveness to child feeding cues scale - Hodges et al. - 2013

      Article Summary of Development of the responsiveness to child feeding cues scale - Hodges et al. - 2013

      What is this article about?   

      Obesity is common in US children and adults, also in children between age of 0-2 years. People who are obese during their childhood experience difficulties to reduce their weight during adolescents and adulthood.

      The first years of a child's life are crucial for developing a healthy eating behavior. However, during those years, infants and their eating behavior depends on their caregiver. If the children’s signals are not interpreted correctly eating in absence of hunger can occur, resulting in over-nutrition. If children are fed according to their signals, development of appetite control can be supported. The definition of parental responsiveness to child feeding is build on the broader definition of parental responsiveness. The definition entails three components: (1) perception of the child’s cue, (2) accurate interpretation of the cue and (3) appropriate response to the cue. Previous research about responsive feeding has been conducted with preschool aged children and data collection of parents’ self-report.

      This article aims to report the development and psychometric evaluation of observational measures of caregiver responsiveness to feeding cues of their children until the age of two years.

      How was this study conducted?

      Via convenience sampling recruited participants for this study were mothers and their children between the age of 7-24 months who already took part in a larger study regarding dietary assessment methods. The mothers taking part in this study were from diverse ethnicities. Aiming to reduce social desirability, participants with a degree in nutrition and/ or psychology were not allowed to take part in this study.

      To collect data, feeding sessions were recorded. The mothers were asked not to feed their children before the feeding sessions. During the observations, the mothers were asked to feed their child the same way and as often as they would usually. One of the used instruments was the Responsiveness to Child Feeding Cues Scale (RCFCS), a coding scheme to assess child’s feeding cues. The development and use of this coding scheme was part of the current study.

      What were the results of this study and how can they be interpreted?

      The observations showed that mothers who are overall responsive to their child’s cues are also responsive to the child’s feeding cues, and in turn, the children of responsive mothers showed a high responsiveness to their mother. Mothers reporting higher education, higher income and less children at home were shown to be relatively more responsive towards their children.

      Previous recommendations and efforts to develop a healthy feeding relationship was largely based on experts, rather than on science. However, the RCFCS coding scheme shows promising results in being an useful assessment tool. This coding scheme showed to have a high inter-rater reliability for most items, besides the physical disposition of children and mothers during feeding.

      After more
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      Article Summary of “Because If You Don’t Put the Top on, It Will Spill”: A Longitudinal Study of Sibling Teaching in Early Childhood - Howe et al. - 2016

      Article Summary of “Because If You Don’t Put the Top on, It Will Spill”: A Longitudinal Study of Sibling Teaching in Early Childhood - Howe et al. - 2016

      What is this article about?

      The summarized article is about how siblings are involved in teaching and learning of the other sibling’s part. Children’s social-cognitive development is influenced and facilitated within their relationships with significant others, of which relationships with siblings are also a part, even though this field is not completely researched yet. The already existing literature states that natural sibling teaching is a natural cognitive activity for children. Older siblings often teach their younger siblings in a semi structural manner, teaching what they just learned from adults. In order to research more in this field, a longitudinal study, researching about naturalistic sibling teaching was conducted and reported in this article.

      What is the relationship between teaching and learning?  

      In the collaborative model of teaching by Rogoff, it is stated that a teacher guides their less informed learner and builds a bridge between the known and unknown information, while promoting an active involvement of the learner. From this point of view, teaching is a bidirectional relationship and process, with teacher and learner being active parts. It is important for the teacher to be aware of the knowledge and skill level of the learner, whereas the learner has to respect the teacher’s knowledge and skills.

      How can a sibling relationship be seen in the context of teaching and learning?

      A sibling relationship is unique due to their reciprocal and complementary characteristics. Usually, older siblings are the ones giving direct and control interactions, even though younger siblings can take over the teaching part as well.

      Sibling Teaching During Semi Structured Tasks

      In a semi-structered task, older siblings teach their younger siblings something they were taught from an adult. How older siblings teach depends on their developmental stage. Preschoolers often demonstrate while teaching, whereas older children focus more on verbal instructions. The older the younger siblings are, the more involved and active they are in the teaching and give more feedback.

      Naturalistic Sibling Teaching

      In naturalistic teaching, older children teach younger children during play context by using a range of strategies, such as scaffolding, explanation and demonstration, with increasing teaching skills.

      What has been researched in the current study?

      This study focused on teaching frequency, strategies and learner involvement in a longitudinal study. First with children at the age of 2 and 4 years (T1), and a follow up assessment two years later (T2). Additionally, the teaching of the first- and second borns at the same age (at the age of 4) were compared and important learner characteristics were examined.

      How was the study conducted and the data measured?

      40 middle-class Canadian families participated with their children in the study. They were observed six times, 90 minutes each. The children were asked to play while pretending the more
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      Article Summary of Gendered Parenting in Early Childhood: Subtle But Unmistakable if You Know Where to Look - Mesman & Groeneveld - 2018

      Article Summary of Gendered Parenting in Early Childhood: Subtle But Unmistakable if You Know Where to Look - Mesman & Groeneveld - 2018

      What is Gendered Parenting?

      The term gendered parenting describes the information parents convey in their interactions, messages and behaviour about how girls and boys are supposed to behave according to social norms.

      Parents generally use similar broad parenting styles with both sons and daughters and studies show there are few differences in how boys and girls are parented in terms of warmth, sensitive responsiveness, or parental control. Theories on gendered child development suggest that parents form gendered expectations and evaluations, which appear in more specific parenting practices. Explicit messages to children about gender are rare in societies which value gender equality, and gender stereotypes are mostly implicit and unconscious. In such societies, parents are less likely to report gender-stereotypical ideas as they would not be accepted. While there is a lack of evidence for sex differences in broad parenting styles or explicit gendered parenting practices, gendered socialization is mainly expressed through specific parenting practices that are mostly implicit. These covert behaviors and statements convey messages about differential expectations of girls and boys without stating these messages overtly. These practices can be divided into direct and indirect messages that concern the child and others around them. Gendered socialization is particularly relevant in early childhood when children first start to understand major principles of gender.

      Direct Messages

      The gendered parenting practices that parents display towards their children convey expectations based on sex and can shape their development. Parents choose the films, books, and toys to which their children are exposed, which can convey gendered messages and encourage certain gender roles. Exposure to highly gender-stereotyped products can affect children's gendered thoughts and behaviors. These choices can lead to differences in skills and later development between boys and girls. Sex differences in children's behavior are not present in infancy but emerge slowly in early childhood. Gendered parenting precedes behavioral differences, with parents often responding differently to the same behaviors in girls and boys. Parental expectations and demands regarding how sons and daughters should behave can send differential messages of approval or disapproval. Children pick up on these evaluations and notice gendered behavior and evaluative messages regarding others' actions.

      Indirect Messages

      Indirect gendered parenting practices communicate gender stereotypes to children. Researchers study these processes by observing parents' responses to materials that challenge gender stereotypes. The most common way to measure these implicit messages is by asking parents to read books to their children featuring gender-neutral or human characters engaging in gender-stereotypical and counter-stereotypical activities. Overall, parental modeling shapes children’s gender roles and expectations, even when these roles are not explicitly taught. Children infer gendered patterns and behavioral rules from the actions they observe, leading to the development of general ideas and expectations about gender roles. These expectations then guide children’s social behavior towards others and perpetuate gender stereotypes.

      What can be concluded from this study?

      Based on the review conducted in this more
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