Concept: Human development
To explore the nature of paternal involvement in early child-rearing adopting a social developmental perspective, and estimate its effect on behavioural outcomes of children aged 9 and 11 years.
To investigate associations between exposure to air pollution and child and adolescent mental health.
The central question we addressed was whether mothers' adjustment might vary systematically by the developmental stages of their children. In an Internet-based study of over 2,200 mostly well-educated mothers with children ranging from infants to adults, we examined multiple aspects of mothers' personal well-being, parenting, and perceptions of their children. Uniformly, adjustment indices showed curvilinear patterns across children’s developmental stages, with mothers of middle-schoolers faring the most poorly, and mothers of adult children and infants faring the best. Findings based on children in mutually exclusive age groups-for example, mothers with only (1 or more) infants, preschoolers, and so forth-had larger effect sizes than those based on the age of the mothers' oldest child. In contrast to the recurrent findings based on children’s developmental stages, mothers' adjustment dimensions showed few variations by their children’s gender. Collectively, results of this study suggest that there is value in preventive interventions involving mothers not just in their children’s infancy and preschool years, but also as their children traverse the developmentally challenging years surrounding puberty. (PsycINFO Database Record
Fathers' involvement in and influence on the health and development of their children have increased in a myriad of ways in the past 10 years and have been widely studied. The role of pediatricians in working with fathers has correspondingly increased in importance. This report reviews new studies of the epidemiology of father involvement, including nonresidential as well as residential fathers. The effects of father involvement on child outcomes are discussed within each phase of a child’s development. Particular emphasis is placed on (1) fathers' involvement across childhood ages and (2) the influence of fathers' physical and mental health on their children. Implications and advice for all child health providers to encourage and support father involvement are outlined.
The social and historical contexts may influence the speed of development. In seven large, nationally representative surveys of U.S. adolescents 1976-2016 (N = 8.44 million, ages 13-19), fewer adolescents in recent years engaged in adult activities such as having sex, dating, drinking alcohol, working for pay, going out without their parents, and driving, suggesting a slow life strategy. Adult activities were less common when median income, life expectancy, college enrollment, and age at first birth were higher and family size and pathogen prevalence were lower, consistent with life history theory. The trends are unlikely to be due to homework and extracurricular time, which stayed steady or declined, and may or may not be linked to increased Internet use.
The quality of father-child interactions has become a focus of increasing research in the field of child development. We examined the potential contribution of father-child interactions at both 3 months and 24 months to children’s cognitive development at 24 months. Observational measures of father-child interactions at 3 and 24 months were used to assess the quality of fathers' parenting (n = 192). At 24 months, the Mental Developmental Index (MDI) of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, Second Edition (N. Bayley, ) measured cognitive functioning. The association between interactions and cognitive development was examined using multiple linear regression analyses, adjusting for paternal age, education and depression, infant age, and maternal sensitivity. Children whose fathers displayed more withdrawn and depressive behaviors in father-infant interactions at 3 months scored lower on the MDI at 24 months. At 24 months, children whose fathers were more engaged and sensitive as well as those whose fathers were less controlling in their interactions scored higher on the MDI. These findings were independent of the effects of maternal sensitivity. Results indicate that father-child interactions, even from a very young age (i.e., 3 months) may influence children’s cognitive development. They highlight the potential significance of interventions to promote positive parenting by fathers and policies that encourage fathers to spend more time with their young children.
Disorganized/Disoriented (D) attachment has seen widespread interest from policy makers, practitioners, and clinicians in recent years. However, some of this interest seems to have been based on some false assumptions that (1) attachment measures can be used as definitive assessments of the individual in forensic/child protection settings and that disorganized attachment (2) reliably indicates child maltreatment, (3) is a strong predictor of pathology, and (4) represents a fixed or static “trait” of the child, impervious to development or help. This paper summarizes the evidence showing that these four assumptions are false and misleading. The paper reviews what is known about disorganized infant attachment and clarifies the implications of the classification for clinical and welfare practice with children. In particular, the difference between disorganized attachment and attachment disorder is examined, and a strong case is made for the value of attachment theory for supportive work with families and for the development and evaluation of evidence-based caregiving interventions.
Advancements in accelerometer analytic and visualization techniques allow researchers to more precisely identify and compare critical periods of physical activity (PA) decline by age across the lifespan, and describe how daily PA patterns may vary across age groups. We used accelerometer data from the 2003-2006 cohorts of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) (n=12,529) to quantify total PA as well as PA by intensity across the lifespan using sex-stratified, age specific percentile curves constructed using generalized additive models. We additionally estimated minute-to-minute diurnal PA using smoothed bivariate surfaces. We found that from childhood to adolescence (ages 6-19) across sex, PA is sharply lower by age partially due to a later initiation of morning PA. Total PA levels, at age 19 are comparable to levels at age 60. Contrary to prior evidence, during young adulthood (ages 20-30) total and light intensity PA increases by age and then stabilizes during midlife (ages 31-59) partially due to an earlier initiation of morning PA. We additionally found that males compared to females have an earlier lowering in PA by age at midlife and lower total PA, higher sedentary behavior, and lower light intensity PA in older adulthood; these trends seem to be driven by lower PA in the afternoon compared to females. Our results suggest a re-evaluation of how emerging adulthood may affect PA levels and the importance of considering time of day and sex differences when developing PA interventions.
Previous studies identified associations between maternal obesity and childhood neurodevelopment, but few examined paternal obesity despite potentially distinct genetic/epigenetic effects related to developmental programming.
Nighttime fears are very common in preschool years. During these years, children’s fantasy-reality differentiation undergoes significant development. Our study was aimed at exploring the links between nighttime fears and fantasy-reality differentiation in preschool children. Eighty children (aged: 4-6 years) suffering from severe nighttime fears were compared with 32 non-fearful controls. Fears were assessed using child and parental reports. Children viewed images depicting fantastic or real entities and situations, and were asked to report whether these were imaginary or could occur in real life. The results revealed that children with nighttime fears demonstrated more fantasy-reality confusion compared to their controls. These differences in fantasy-reality differentiation were more pronounced in younger children. Additional significant associations were found between fantasy-reality differentiation and age and specific characteristics of the stimuli. These preliminary findings, suggesting a developmental delay in fantasy-reality differentiation in children with nighttime fears, have significant theoretical and clinical implications.