Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Child's behavior linked to father-infant interactions, study shows

Date:
July 18, 2012
Source:
Wellcome Trust
Summary:
Children whose fathers are more positively engaged with them at age three months have fewer behavioral problems at age twelve months, according to new research. The study suggests that interventions aimed at improving parent-child interaction in the early post-natal period may be beneficial to the child's behavior later on in life.

Children whose fathers are more positively engaged with them at the age of three months have fewer behavioural problems at the age of twelve months, according to new research funded by the Wellcome Trust.
Credit: detailblick / Fotolia

Children whose fathers are more positively engaged with them at the age of three months have fewer behavioural problems at the age of twelve months, according to new research funded by the Wellcome Trust. The study suggests that interventions aimed at improving parent-child interaction in the early postnatal period may be beneficial to the child's behaviour later in life.

Behavioural disorders are the most common psychological problem affecting children. They are associated with a wide range of problems in adolescence and adult life, including academic failure, delinquency, peer rejection, and poor psychiatric and physical health. Research suggests that the roots of enduring behavioural problems often extend back into the preschool years.

Epidemiological studies have identified several risk factors for the onset and continuity of behavioural problems. Among these, parenting characteristics and patterns of parent-child interaction seem to be particularly important. However, studies of parental factors usually focus on the role of the mother.

In a study published July 19 in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, researchers at the University of Oxford studied 192 families recruited from two maternity units in the UK to see whether there was a link between father-child interactions in the early postnatal period and the child's behaviour.

Dr Paul Ramchandani -- a researcher and clinical psychiatrist now based at the Academic Unit of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London -- led the study, which assessed father-infant interactions in the family home when the child was aged three months and compared them against the child's behaviour at the age of twelve months.

The researchers found that key aspects of the father-infant interaction, measured very early in children's lives, were associated with an increased risk of behavioural problems in children at an early age. This is the first time that this apparent influence has been demonstrated for observed father-infant interaction and such early onset behaviour problems.

"We found that children whose fathers were more engaged in the interactions had better outcomes, with fewer subsequent behavioural problems," explains Dr Ramchandani. "At the other end of the scale, children tended to have greater behavioural problems when their fathers were more remote and lost in their own thoughts or when their fathers interacted less with them. This association tended to be stronger for boys than for girls, suggesting that perhaps boys are more susceptible to the influence of their father from a very early age.

"We don't yet know whether the fathers being more remote and disengaged are actually causing the behavioural problems in the children, but it does raise the possibility that these early interactions are important."

The researchers believe there are several possible explanations for the association. The lack of paternal engagement could reflect wider problems in family relationships, with fathers who are in a more troubled relationship with their partner finding it more challenging to engage with their infant.

Alternatively, it may reflect a broader lack of supervision and potentially care, for the infant, resulting in an increase in behavioural disturbance. Another possibility is that the infant's behaviour represents its attempt to elicit a parental reaction in response to an earlier lack of parental engagement.

Dr Ramchandani adds: "Focusing on the infant's first few months is important as this is a crucial period for development and the infant is very susceptible to environmental influences, such as the quality of parental care and interaction.

"As every parent knows, raising a child is not an easy task. Our research adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests that intervening early to help parents can make a positive impact on how their infant develops."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wellcome Trust. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Paul G Ramchandani, Jill Domoney, Vaheshta Sethna, Lamprini Psychogiou, Haido Vlachos, Lynne Murray. Do early father-infant interactions predict the onset of externalising behaviours in young children? Findings from a longitudinal cohort study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2012.02583.x

Cite This Page:

Wellcome Trust. "Child's behavior linked to father-infant interactions, study shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120718192607.htm>.
Wellcome Trust. (2012, July 18). Child's behavior linked to father-infant interactions, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120718192607.htm
Wellcome Trust. "Child's behavior linked to father-infant interactions, study shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120718192607.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Could Marijuana Use Lead To Serious Heart Problems?

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) A new study says marijuana use could lead to serious heart-related complications. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A recent report claims personality can change over time as we age, and usually that means becoming nicer and more emotionally stable. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins