The current study examined the concurrent relations between various maternal parenting variables and 5-to 8-year-old children’s understanding of interpretation and mixed emotions. Mothers’ self-reported parenting styles, use of mental state words, parent-interaction quality (engagement, responsiveness and sensitivity of control) and complexity of epistemological beliefs were assessed. Regression analyses were used to test the hypothesis that higher quality maternal parenting practices would explain significant variability in children’s social understanding. Results found that the maternal variables were associated with each other in a theoretically consistent manner but did not explain significant variability in either children’s understanding of interpretation or mixed emotions. The only significant predictor of children’s social understanding was child age, such that older children performed better on both social cognitive tasks. Results are discussed in light of previous research linking various parenting practices and social understanding abilities in children.
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Thesis advisor: Carpendale, Jeremy I.M.
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