Father-Child Conversation and the Development of Executive Function during the Preschool Period
Citation:KELLY, LINDA MARIE, Father-Child Conversation and the Development of Executive Function during the Preschool Period, Trinity College Dublin.School of Psychology, 2020
Linda Kelly PhD Thesis.pdf (PhD Thesis) 2.301Mb
The present thesis sought to add to the body of research demonstrating the importance of the early father-child interactive environment for child executive function (EF) development. In particular, this thesis focussed on associations between fathers' child-directed speech (CDS) and child EF. This research was carried out in the Trinity College Dublin Infant and Child Research Lab which uses observational methods to study naturalistic interactions between parents and children in order to investigate how patterns of interaction are associated with children's development over time. Observation of parent-child interaction is a well-established approach to studying developmental processes in early childhood. This method allows researchers not only to investigate relationships between interactive patterns and child development over time, but also track the moment-to-moment processes by which parents and children shape each other's behaviour as they interact. This research is embedded within a transactional model of child development which views the influence of parents and their children on one another as bidirectional (Sameroff, 2009). The present research investigated how patterns of interaction between parents and their two-year-old children were longitudinally associated with child language and executive function development at ages three and four years. At age two years interactions between parents and child were captured in free play and structured play contexts, in both dyadic (one parent and child) and triadic (mother, father, child) settings. Father-child language variables were calculated from transcripts of these interactions. Child EF abilities were assessed via parental report at age two years and directly assessed at ages three and four years. Child language abilities were directly assessed at each wave of data collection. The first chapter of the thesis presents an overview of the literature on parent-child interaction and the role of fathers in child development. This chapter emphasises that although fathers are underrepresented in research on parent-child interaction, studying father-child relations provides an enriched understanding of early interactive influences on child development. This chapter also introduces fathers' CDS as an important contributor to child development. Chapter 2 outlines the development of EF during the preschool period with a particular focus on the interactive context in which this set of higher-order cognitive processes emerges. The remainder of the thesis is divided into a number of separate studies. Chapter 3 provides a cross-sectional comparison of mothers' and fathers' CDS during structured and free play at child age two years. Longitudinal associations between fathers' CDS at age two and child language and EF development at age three years were subsequently examined, controlling for mothers' speech. Findings indicated that fathers' CDS demonstrated unique associations with child language and EF development. Chapter 4 investigated longitudinal associations between fathers' CDS measured at child age two years and child EF at age four years. Findings demonstrated an association between conversational turn-taking in father-child interaction and child EF. The dynamics of conversational turn-taking as well as the communicative functions of fathers' speech were subsequently analysed in order to understand this association in greater depth. Chapter 5 sought to investigate the association between conversational turn-taking and child EF among a new sample of three-year-old children and their fathers using an experimental design. Conversational turn-taking in father-child interaction was manipulated using a shared book-reading paradigm and the effect on EF was measured. Findings illustrated the effectiveness of manipulating father-child turn-taking during shared book-reading however did not support an effect on child EF. In summary, this thesis provides an in-depth study of father-child interaction and highlights the importance of fathers' CDS for child development. Chapter 6 discusses the implications of the findings of the thesis, details its limitations and provides directions for future research.
Author: KELLY, LINDA MARIE
Publisher:Trinity College Dublin. School of Psychology. Discipline of Psychology
Type of material:Thesis
Availability:Full text available