Improving care. Changing lives.

Child Mental Health Forum - Catherine Tamis-LeMonda, Ph.D.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 - 10:00am to 11:15am
Catherine Tamis-LeMonda

Culture, Context and Communication in Parent-Child Interactions: Foundations to Child Learning and Development

Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda, Ph.D.
Professor of Applied Psychology
Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development
New York University

Parent-child interactions are a core conduit for children learning about their worlds and developing skills that are valued in their cultural communities. Parents from different ethnic backgrounds provide infants with unique social experiences that portend individual- and culture-specific patterns of development. A key way that parents convey culture is through their direct interactions with children: How parents communicate and what they communicate about conveys to children important messages about how to behave and which skills are important to learn. In this talk, I present four studies to illustrate the "culture of communication" based on a longitudinal study of U.S. mothers and children of African American, Dominican, Mexican, and Chinese backgrounds followed from infancy through 1st grade. Study 1 examines differences in the form and content of mothers' communications (gesture, language) with 1- and 2-year olds. Study 2 reveals the cultural messages mothers convey to preschoolers when sharing a wordless book. Study 3 reveals differences in mothers' teaching during block play. Study 4 examines mothers' messages to children about academic achievement as they construct a story about a protagonist's ambiguous "B" grade. These studies highlight everyday parent-child interactions as a prime context for children to learn culturally valued skills.

Target Audience: Physicians (psychiatrists, pediatricians, child neurologists), psychologists, social workers, other mental health clinicians and researchers, and students and trainees.

Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  1. Appreciate the value of video-recording technologies in research and practice that aims to understand and support parenting and child development
  2. Understand how cultural values and experiences can be infused in the everyday interactions parents have with children-- in how they talk, what they deem important to teach children and so forth

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