Education news

University of research parents' experiences of their children's behaviour

NUI Galway

THE School of Psychology at NUI Galway is seeking 1,000 parents to complete a survey on their children's behaviour.

Researchers are keen to hear from fathers and mothers of children aged from two to 18 years, and in particular the experiences with their eldest child.

The online Child in Mind survey is being carried out by researchers, Noella Lyons, a senior clinical psychologist, and Dr Jonathan Egan, deputy course director of the Clinical Psychology Programme at NUI Galway.

It is hoped the study will lead to better awareness of how parents experience their children's behaviour.

The team said young children in particular did not have the language skills to reveal their feelings so they acted out when hungry or tired. For older children, parents tended to have to do a little more exploration to understand what was going on in their child's mind to cause behaviour problems, they added.

"This research hopes to explore a concept called reflective functioning," Ms Lyons said.

"This relates to how we understand the thoughts, feelings, intentions and behaviours of ourselves and of other people. This online survey is embedded in research on attachment which focuses on how children's relationship with their parents develops.

"Through research like this we are beginning to understand more about the importance of how strong parent-child attachment can protect children's social and emotional wellbeing, thereby leading them to become more resilient as teenagers and adults.”

Dr Egan said some of these less studied aspects of parenting "might open a door to help current parenting programmes become more effective in helping parents meet both their children's and their own needs".

"Feeling like you are being an effective parent, builds up a sense of being in control of your family's direction and also leaves you feeling like a better and more competent mum or dad, which can only be a good thing," he said.

:: To complete the online survey, which takes 10-15 minutes, click here.

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