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Dev Neuropsychol. 2002;21(1):15-41.

The role of early parenting in children's development of executive processes.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Texas, Health Science Center-Houston, 77030, USA.


Using structural modeling, we examined the influence of mothers' verbal input that provided information about associations between objects and actions (scaffolding) at 3 and 4 years of age on children's 6-year executive processing skills. Executive processing skills were measured by search retrieval and independent goal-directed play tasks. A set of 4-year basic skills (language, memory, nonverbal problem solving) considered to be prerequisites for executive processing also were included. Patterns of influence across these variables were examined for 253 children who varied in neonatal complications and in their degree of risk for later developmental problems. Results showed that mothers' early verbal scaffolding at 3 years indirectly influenced both types of executive processing skills at 6 years by directly influencing children's language and nonverbal problem-solving skills at 4 years of age. Four-year scaffolding did not show direct influences on later executive processing skills. The provision of this form of maternal verbal input when children are rapidly developing language appears to support a set of basic skills necessary for later executive processing.

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