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The Association between Parenting, Attention and Working Memory in Early Childhood
Although studies have documented the association between parenting and developmental outcomes in children, few studies have examined how parenting is linked to verbal and spatial working memory, specifically. Attention is closely related to working memory in adults, but this relationship has not been tested in as much detail in early childhood. This dissertation investigates how parenting, attention and working memory are associated. In study 1, data from the Family Life project were analyzed. A total of 1,292 children were followed from birth to 36 months. Greater sensitive and cognitively stimulating parenting at 15 months predicted greater verbal working memory at 36 months. Greater sensitive and cognitively stimulating parenting at 6 months predicted attentional shifting at 24 months, which, in turn, predicted verbal working memory at 36 months. In study 2, 59 children from 3 ½ to 4 ½ years of age completed three spatial working memory tasks, one verbal working memory task and one attention task. Parents completed the Parenting Behaviors and Dimensions Questionnaire and Children’s Behavior Questionnaire. Greater democratic discipline and greater sustained attention from the Track-it task predicted greater memory biases away from the midline symmetry axis of the computer monitor and more accurate memory responses in the Spaceship task, i.e., a more developmentally advanced memory response. Attentional shifting predicted greater spatial memory span in the forward Corsi-block tapping task, after controlling for age. Findings from this dissertation suggest that sensitive, cognitively stimulating and democratic parenting is essential to working memory development in young children; attention is associated with working memory in early childhood; and that attentional shifting is a mediator for the association between parenting and working memory in early development. In conclusion, this dissertation provides evidence for an association between sensitive, cognitively stimulating and democratic parenting and working memory in early childhood; a link between attention and working memory in early development; and a mediating role of attentional shifting in the development of working memory.
Wu, Yinbo, "The Association between Parenting, Attention and Working Memory in Early Childhood" (2020). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI28025770.