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Mothers’ and fathers’ talk of internal states with toddler and preschool children: gender differences and predictors for parental ratings of children’s social skills Open Access


Other title
Mother and infant
Father and infant
Social skills in children -- Sex differences
Body language
Language and emotions
Preschool children
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Roger, Katherine Mary
Supervisor and department
Rinaldi, Christina (Educational Psychology)
Examining committee member and department
Skrypnek, Berna (Human Ecology)
Pei, Jacqueline (Educational Psychology)
Department of Educational Psychology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Education
Degree level
The current study extends previous literature examining maternal internal state language (ISL) to include paternal-child observations. Gender differences in parents’ ISL with young children was examined, as well as whether ISL was related to parents’ ratings of the children’s social skills. Fifty-seven (28 boys and 29 girls) toddler/preschool children (M age = 32.5 months, SD = 5.38 months) were observed separately with their mothers and fathers while they discussed pictures of children’s facial expressions of emotions. Parents completed a questionnaire concerning their child’s social development (i.e., BASC-2). Interestingly, parents used more emotion language and ISL questions with sons compared to daughters, and sons used more ISL with mothers compared to fathers. No differences were found between mothers’ and fathers’ ISL. Mothers’ social skills ratings was predicted by mothers’ ISL comments, whereas fathers’ ratings were predicted by children’s age and fathers’ ISL clarifications. Implications and limitations of the study are discussed.
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