Experiences from conception to age six have the most important influence of any time in the life

Parental Reflective Function and Preschool Children’s Development

Parental Reflective Function and Preschool Children’s Development

Summary of the Project

Parental Reflective Function and Preschool Children’s Development will examine the association between parental RF and quality of relationships with their 4 year olds and the cognitive, language and social-emotional development of their children one year later. Thus, accounting for known covariates (e.g. stress, family income, parental depression, child temperament, child sex). This research will not only test the widespread assumption that both mothers’ and fathers’ RF relates to children’s development, but will do so at an important developmental time point – preschool. Understanding parents’ influences on preschool children’s development will inform and guide numerous parenting programs in Canada and abroad that are designed to promote children’s social and school success, especially for those vulnerable to social ills such as poverty and parental addiction.

The study will be complete in 3 years, with the first two years devoted to data collection and the last year to analysis, report writing and end-of-grant knowledge mobilization (See Table 3). We will seek ethics approval prior to funding so that we can begin recruiting and assessing the oldest FPS children as soon as possible. As the children in our cohort range from one to three years old, and the oldest children will turning three in March 2014, we anticipate data collection between March 2014 and March 2016. During the first six months, time will be spent organizing recruitment and data collection procedures and creating the Microsoft Access TM database. We have already identified the doctoral student who will lead the study and from which she will derive her dissertation. Trained psychometrics and the psychologist who will administer the Adult Attachment Interview for coding for RF are already associated with the research program and are available to begin as soon as funding is available.

Research Questions

  1. What is the association between mothers’ RF and preschool children’s development?
  2. What is the association between fathers’ RF and preschool children’s development?
  3. What are the combined contributions of mothers’ and fathers’ RF to preschool children’s development?
  4. What qualities of parent-child relationships mediate associations between mothers’ and fathers’ RF and preschool children’s development?

Goals and Objectives

To date, only three studies of RF-oriented parenting intervention have been identified, reporting mixed results. The primary objectives of this study are to:

  1. Understand the association between parental RF and children’s development, while accounting for infant attachment and parental sensitive responsiveness
  2. Fill an empirical gap and inform the implementation of community parenting programs in Canada and abroad

Funded by: 

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

Members of the Team

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS:

Name and Title: Dr. Nicole Letourneau (PI), Professor and Norlien/ACHF Research Chair in Parent-Infant Mental Health (AllerGen Investigator)

Email Address: Nicole.Letourneau@ucalgary.ca
 

RESEARCH CO-INVESTIGATORS:

Name and Title: Dr. Gerald Giesbrecht, Assistant Professor, Department of Paediatrics

Email Address: ggiesbre@ucalgary.ca

 

Name and Title: Dr. Tavis Campbell, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Calgary, Director of the Behavioral Medicine Laboratory

Email Address: t.s.campbell@ucalgary.ca

 

Name and Title: Dr. Liane Tomfohr, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Calgary

Email Address: ltomfohr@ucalgary.ca