There is no denying the fact that the role of mothers in a child’s life is way too significant. From changing diapers to cheering at soccer games, they are the ultimate multitaskers. But did you know that their support goes far beyond just being there for their children? Scientific research has long suggested that maternal support plays a pivotal role in a child’s holistic development. It’s like having a secret ingredient that turbocharges a child’s growth and potential. “How?” Well, a recent study sheds light On the connection between maternal support and a child’s Intelligence. Let’s dive right in!
Let’s Look At Why The Study Was Conducted!
In the past, studies have indicated a positive correlation between maternal supportiveness and children’s cognitive abilities. However, recent research sought to expand upon this understanding by investigating the relationship in greater detail.
The study titled “Maternal Supportiveness is Predictive of Childhood General Intelligence” was conducted by Curtis S. Dunkel, Dimitri van der Linden, and Tetsuya Kawamoto. They considered potential factors that could influence the results and took a larger group of participants. The aim of the study was to provide a more comprehensive analysis.
Additionally, the researchers aimed to determine whether the impact of maternal supportiveness on general intelligence was limited to specific abilities or if it had a more extensive influence on overall intellectual development.
The research team analyzed data obtained from families who took part in the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Study (EHSRE) spanning from 1996 to 2010.
The final dataset used for analysis comprised 1,075 children, with 529 girls and 546 boys. Within the sample, there were 409 White children, 347 Black children, 241 Hispanic children, and 54 children classified as belonging to other racial/ethnic groups.
How Did They Do It?
To assess maternal supportiveness, the researchers employed a semi-structured play task known as the 3-bag task. This task involved parents and their children engaging in play with toys contained in three bags, while their interactions were recorded on video. Later, trained graduate students evaluated the encounters using the three maternal behaviour pillars. Which are: parental sensitivity, cognitive stimulation, and positive regard.
The cognitive ability of the children was measured at various ages ranging from 14 months to 10 years, using a variety of assessment methods. Curtis Dunkel and his colleagues discovered that: when mothers exhibited greater support towards their children, the children tended to achieve higher scores in general intelligence assessments.
This correlation remained significant even after controlling for other variables such as the mother’s own intelligence. This indicates that maternal supportiveness played a distinct role in influencing the child’s intelligence.
The researchers also discovered that children who showed greater interest and responsiveness to their parents’ attempts to stimulate their thinking tended to receive more encouragement from their mothers.
What Does That Tell Us?
The findings suggest that maternal supportiveness has an impact on general intelligence during early life. However, it has been observed in previous research that this effect diminishes as individuals reach adulthood. And it remains unclear why these early environmental effects seem to fade away completely. In other words, while maternal supportiveness is important in the short term, it does not have a lasting influence on intelligence in the long term.
However, it is important to note that even a slight advantage in cognitive performance during critical stages of a child’s development can lead to significant outcomes. During the early years of life, the brain undergoes rapid development and forms connections. The experiences encountered during this period, such as play, communication, and social interaction are important. They play a vital role in shaping the brain’s architecture.
These formative experiences can have a long-lasting effect on a child’s general development and build the foundation for future learning.