The role of parents’ distancing strategies in the development of five-year-old children’s Theory of Mind

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The aim of this study was to analyse the relation between parents’ distancing strategies and the performance of five-year-old children (N = 70) in Theory of Mind (ToM) tasks. The children’s performances were assessed during individual sessions held at school. The distancing strategies practiced by the parents (cognitive and linguistic scaffolding, contingency rule and decontextualisation strategies, among others) were assessed through systematic observation carried out in the family home. The results support the relationship between some of these variables (linguistic scaffolding, decontextualisation and contingency rule) and ToM development. The implications of these results are discussed in relation to the need of educational and family intervention programmes which enhance the development of this ability.

Keywords: contingency rule; decontextualisation; family context; mental state language; scaffolding; theory of mind

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Basic Psychological Processes and Their Development, Faculty of Psychology,University of the Basque Country, San Sebastián, Spain

Publication date: February 1, 2012

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