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Dev Neuropsychol. 2003;24(2-3):559-91.

The importance of parenting during early childhood for school-age development.

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Division of Developmental Pediatrics, University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center, 77303, USA.


This study reports on the relation of 4 patterns of responsive parenting across early childhood (birth-4 1.2 years) with children's rate of cognitive and social development through 8 years of age for a cohort of children born preterm and of very low birthweight and term. Consistent responsiveness across early childhood predicted faster rates of cognitive and social growth than did inconsistent or minimal responsiveness, particularly for preterm children. As parenting at 6 and 8 years did not alter this relation, results suggest that parenting across early childhood plays a unique role in children's development. We also examined whether mothers could be facilitated to use a set of responsive behaviors across infancy that increased children's learning. Compared to control mothers, mothers randomly assigned to receive the intervention displayed greater changes in behaviors that established a social learning context supporting infants' object exploration and vocalization of interests. This, in turn, resulted in greater changes in infants' cognitive and social skills. As in the 1st study, preterm infants appeared to benefit to a greater extent from this more responsive social learning context.

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