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Clin Psychol Rev. 2006 Sep;26(5):535-54. Epub 2006 Jul 3.

Mother-child reminiscing about everyday experiences: implications for psychological interventions in the preschool years.

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School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.


The preschool years are a critical period for all aspects of child development, and any disruption to cognitive or socio-emotional functioning at this stage has potential repercussions for current and future functioning. There is, therefore, a need for clinical interventions that optimize the functioning of children at risk of psychological disorders. In the current paper, we review research showing that the way in which parents discuss everyday experiences with their young children has significant implications for the children's cognitive and socio-emotional functioning. Specifically, mothers who engage their child in a rich elaborative style of talking about past experiences have children who also develop an elaborative style of remembering and reporting personal experiences. Evidence suggests that elaborative reminiscing can benefit children's social and self understanding, the quality of the parent-child relationship, and language and emergent literacy. Moreover, findings show that elements of the elaborative style can be identified and taught to parents. We propose that elaborative parent-child discussion about the past could form the basis of developmentally sensitive intervention during the preschool period.

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