What is it about?

Do mothers' abilities to use cognitive self-regulation help them understand their child's inner world, such as emotions, thoughts? We examined this question by looking at levels of understanding of the child (spontaneous tendency to think about the child's internal states and complexity of their understanding) in a sample of mothers of preschool children born pre- or full-term, while examining how different contexts in child rearing may change these links.

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Why is it important?

Parents' ability to understand their child's inner world has been associated with positive parent-child relationships and child socio-emotional and cognitive development. We found that maternal self-regulation is associated with more complicated understanding of their child's inner world when it's more challenging to "see the child" - when the child is more difficult and negative and when mothers are dissatisfied from their caregiving arrangements with their partner- but not in stressful contexts (raising a child born prematurely). These findings contribute to our understanding of the parental attributes that contribute to the ability to understand the child, especially in contexts often encountered in clinics. This knowledge can help shape our understanding of how to improve this important parental capacity to foster more positive parent-child relationships.

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This page is a summary of: When do mothers’ executive functions contribute to their representations of their child’s mind? A contextual view on parental reflective functioning and mind-mindedness., Developmental Psychology, June 2020, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/dev0000931.
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