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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Mothers' understanding of children's social and emotional development Moore, Natalie J.


This qualitative study was used to examine mothers’ understanding of children’s social and emotional development in terms of the ways it is seen to manifest in children, indicators and facilitators of competence, and the parental role in fostering development. This research also intended to provide an avenue through which parents’ voices might be reflected in the child development literature. Utilising a multiple case study method, data were collected from 5 mothers of preschoolers via a series of interviews and journal entries. Thematic analysis indicated that mothers understood their preschoolers’ social and emotional development as the increasingly spontaneous use of prosocial behaviours, and that they understood this development as a product of processes that included adult intervention, children’s direct experiences, observation and maturation. This analysis also revealed specific tasks that mothers performed in supporting the social and emotional development of their preschoolers. However, their articulation of the ways in which children’s social and emotional competencies develop was not fully reflected in the tasks they performed. That is, the mothers reported that they supported their preschoolers’ social competencies in ways that have been substantiated in the research literature. However, a majority did not report performing tasks central to facilitating their preschoolers’ emotional competencies. This finding suggests that although parents may appear to be well able to support their children’s developing social and emotional competencies, children may be missing out on some necessary parts of their emotional learning.

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