Kid’s Autonomy Leads to Higher Cognitive Skills

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Our Monday green news brings you the latest on nutrition, good causes and child education:kid's autonomy, child development, cognitive skills

  • Kid’s autonomy leads to higher cognitive skills: According to a study led by researchers at the University of Montreal, the children of mothers who are consistently able to support the development of their baby’s sense of autonomy, proved higher cognitive skills. The researchers specifically examined range of cognitive processes essential for cognitive, social and psychological functioning. As the study leader Célia Matte-Gagné explained: “We have shown that the child’s executive functioning is linked to the mother’s ability to support his or her autonomy. Autonomy support includes things such as teaching children problem solving skills and involves taking the child’s perspective while ensuring he or she takes an active role in completing tasks. Importantly, the study shows that it’s not just about getting off to a good start. While many studies have confirmed that a mother’s support are critical, few have looked at how these skills might change over time and what effect that might have.” The researchers studied seventy-eight moms and their children when the child was 15 months old, and again at 3 years of age.  During teach visit, the mom was asked to help the children complete activities that were slightly too difficult for the child to complete alone (building a tower and completing puzzles at the first visit, sorting blocks at the second.) The activities took ten minutes and were video-recorded so that the researchers could evaluate the mother’s autonomy-supportive behaviors: to what extent she encouraged her child in the pursuit of the task (giving positive feedback and using a positive tone of voice), took her child’s perspective and demonstrated flexibility in her attempts to keep the child on task, followed her child’s pace, providing the child with the opportunity to make choices and play an active role, and intervened and adapted the task according to the infant’s needs while minimizing the use of controlling techniques. The highest scores went to the children whose mothers were consistently amongst the best at promoting autonomous behavior.
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