We used a longitudinal study with 55 middle- and upper middle-class children to investigate the relation between early mother characteristics (e.g. mental state talk, general parenting style) and later child characteristics (e.g. theory of mind, conflict/cooperation). Children were tested once when they were around 3 years and then again around 4 years. At each time point, children were given a task in which mothers helped the child and a friend draw items with a drawing toy. We examined 2 measures of child theory of mind (task performance and mental state talk), and 4 measures of conflict/cooperation. Early mother mental state talk was uniquely related to both later theory of mind measures and 2 of 4 later conflict/cooperation measures. Mother parenting style (warmth) was uniquely related only to 1 later child conflict/cooperation measure. Child theory of mind was not related to any child conflict/cooperation measures. Thus, it seems to be only what mothers say (their mental state talk) that relates to child theory of mind, and both what they say and what they do (their warmth) that relates to child conflict/cooperation.
|Journal||British Journal of Developmental Psychology|
|Publication status||Published - Mar 2006|