Research shows gender differences in parents can affect emotional development in children

Published on March 28, 2013 at 5:10 AM · No Comments

Study finds mothers tell better, more emotional stories about past experiences which help children develop their emotional skills

The act of talking is not an area where ability is usually considered along gender lines. However, a new study published in Springer's journal Sex Roles has found subtle differences between the sexes in their story-relating ability and specifically the act of reminiscing. The research by Widaad Zaman from the University of Central Florida and her colleague Robyn Fivush from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, discusses how these gender differences in parents can affect children's emotional development.

Previous research in this area has concluded that the act of parents reminiscing with their children enables children to interpret experiences and weave together the past, present and future. There is also evidence that parents elaborate less when talking to sons than daughters.

The primary objective of Zaman's study was to compare the reminiscing styles of mothers and fathers with their pre-school daughters and sons. This included how they elaborated on the story and the extent to which their children engaged with the story while it was being told.

The researchers studied 42 families where the participating children were between four and five years old. Parents were asked to reminisce about four past emotional experiences of the child (happy, sad, a conflict with a peer and a conflict with a parent) and two past play interactions they experienced together. The parents took turns talking to the child on separate visits.

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