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MU Study Finds Mothers' Playtime Behavior Affects Relationship With Child

Posted: Feb 5, 2013 5:37 AM by Carlie McGuire
Updated: Feb 5, 2013 6:42 AM

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COLUMBIA -A study out of the University of Missouri shows the importance of mother and child interactions during playtime. The study shows that children with more controlling mothers were likely to have negative feelings about their mother.

By correcting a child while he or she plays, the child develops feelings of resentment and wants to spend less time with their mother. Mothers who encouraged more freedom during recreation time had better relationships with the child. Interactions between mother and child were studied when the children were one, two, three, and five years old.

In addition to how much a mother directs her child's play, amounts of affection from a mother also has an effect on children. More affectionate and less controlling mothers had stronger relationships with their child than mothers who controlled play time and were critical of a child's play. Mothers who directed playtime, but were affectionate, still had favorable relationships with children.

"Children take in the meaning of what their mothers are trying to do, so if a mom is being very directive and is generally a very warm person, I think the child feels, 'My mom is doing this because she cares about me, and she's trying to do the best for me,'" said lead researcher and MU professor Jean Ispa.

The study was conducted using pre-recorded tapes from a previous study as part of the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project. From 1996-201,0 Early Head Start participants were randomly selected and studied to determine the effectiveness of those programs. Early Head Start is a federally funded program designed to improve child development among low-income families.

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