Parental Use of Screen Media to Regulate Toddlers' Negative Emotionality – first data from the Swiss Baby Screen Use Project
1Universitäre Psychiatrische Kliniken Basel (UPK), Switzerland; 2Zentrum für Frühförderung (ZFF) Basel, Switzerland
<p>In early childhood, children strongly rely on external emotion regulation by care givers to regulate their distress and negative emotions. Although the Swiss Society of Pediatrics (SGP) recommends not to expose toddlers under the age of three, many parents use screen media devices for their young children. Many parents resort to screen media to regulate their toddlers's distress or negative emotions. However, little is known about the long-term implications of using this strategy for children's emotional functioning and behavioral problems. To address this issue, our study examines the association between the use of screen media in early childhood to regulate distress and negative emotions. We also examine whether parents with patterns of dysfunctional emotion regulation are more prone to use this regulatory strategy.</p>
<p>We currently run an anonymous online study via the RedCap platform that assessed overall screen time of children aged 0 to 5 years, families’ demographic covariates, parental strategies to regulate toddlers distress and negative emotions, and parental strategies to regulate own negative emotions. We hypothesize that frequent parental use of screen media to regulate toddlers distress is predicted by dysfunctional parental emotion regulation and will also be associated to behavioral difficulties. Our findings will be presented at the conference and should be the basis for family-based prevention programms that may be delivered in community settings.</p>
Pretending to solve an IT problem: Exploring the concept of digital transformation in kindergarten through pretend play
St.Gallen University of Teacher Education, Switzerland
<p>Problem solving is one of the crucial 21st century digital skills in the context of digital transformation, as well as creativity, communication and collaboration. Digital transformation refers to the changes in structuring processes made possible through digitalisation, bringing people, data and technology together in new ways. Children's interest in digital transformation professions could be sparked early on. As learning through play is paramount for kindergarten, competencies for problem solving would best be fostered through pretend play.</p>
<p>Pretend play impulses on the topic of digital transformation were developed: existing corners were extended, i.e. the home corner becoming a smart home corner, and new corners established, i.e. ICT centre, robot factory, etc.. 15 kindergarten teachers participated at professional development and implemented the free play impulses. The children’s play was videographed (in total 45h video material). In this presentation, the following research question is analysed qualitatively: in what way do children solve IT problems in pretend play?</p>
<p>Findings indicate that children identify problems in the play situation and solve them not only with conventional tools such as screwdrivers, but also through programming new applications and installations. Furthermore results show that children identify problems in the play situation, seek to debug (i.e. display of the wrong language), programme (i.e. secure a door with a digital code) and install (i.e. connect a new sensor for coffee machine). The discussion focuses on the potential of pretend play for digital education.</p>
Does universal early childhood education reduce inequalities? A systematic review
University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Early interventions may contribute to reducing the skill gap between children from vulnerable and favorable backgrounds since the first years of life are a crucial period for brain development. In this context, early childhood education (ECE) emerges as a policy that may affect children’s cognitive and non-cognitive development and equalize educational opportunities. Taken altogether, the evidence on ECE influenced policy agendas to include and foster universal ECE. The research on universal preschool programs has mixed results. ECE can have different effects depending on the intensity and quality of the programs as well as depending on it is privately or publicly offered. These diverse effects coupled with the importance of this type of policy motivated this paper that will follow a systematic review method to understand the effect of pre-primary school attendance on children’s outcomes and whether these effects decrease inequality. By using a combination of search terms for ECE in bibliographical databases, it was found empirical studies that evaluate ECE and the treatment effects in these studies are used as data in a meta-analytical method that summarizes the effects. The research answers the following research questions: (a) Is early childhood education an effective policy strategy for equalization? (b) What are the effects of universal early childhood education on inequalities over the life course?
In-sync we learn! A meta-analysis of biobehavioral synchrony's effects on cognition
1Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development, University of Zurich, Switzerland; 2Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, USA; 3Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
<p><strong>Background.</strong> By nature, humans are social beings spending their lives in interactions with others. During the first two life decades the most common social partners are caregivers, siblings, peers, and teachers, whose role in learning is often investigated. Evidence for the boosting effects of biobehavioral synchrony, i.e., inter-subject coupling of behavioral and/or neurobiological activity over time, on cognitive performance is mounting; however, the literature is fragmented. Links between distinct synchrony types and cognitive outcomes are examined through various methodological and analytic approaches, lacking the crosstalk between fields.</p>
<p><strong>Methods. </strong>Through a meta-analytic approach, we aim to address this gap and integrate the disconnected literature clarifying the positive effects of biobehavioral synchrony on learning outcomes in children (<18y). All methods, including inclusion and exclusion criteria, search for relevant literature, abstract and full-text screening procedures as well as data extraction, have been pre-registered and final analyses will only be conducted in line with the steps suggested.</p>
<p><strong>Results.</strong> The literature search yielded 9,313 relevant articles. During the abstract screening phase, 1519 studies have been moved to full-text screening. To date, 81% have been assessed for eligibility and 428 studies will be included in the data-extraction process. We expect to present first findings at the time of the conference.</p>
<p><strong>Discussion.</strong> The heterogeneous definitions and approaches used in the inter-subject coupling literature of biobehavioral synchrony hinders a mechanistic understanding on how synchrony promotes learning. Creating a unified framework thus holds the potential to disentangle the role of inter-subject coupling on cognitive performance during child development.</p>
Joint Attention in Parent-Toddler Shared Reading of Print vs Digital Picture Book and its Influence on Child’s Novel Word Learning
1Université de Lausanne, Switzerland; 2HETSL - Haute école de travail social et de la santé Lausanne
Sharing intentional interest on an object or activity is referred to as joint attention (JA). JA is a core social cognition process that allows young children to socially engage and develop communicative abilities. Aspects of parental and child engagement during print vs digital book reading have been assessed in the literature but JA per se has not been examined yet. We ask whether parental scaffolding of child’s JA (PS-JA) and child JA differ in shared book reading depending on book format and how this difference might impact the child’s ability of new word learning.
Twenty-four parent-child dyads (11 girls; age range=24-36months) were asked to read one print and one digital book for 5 minutes each over a zoom session. Sessions were videorecorded and analyzed for child JA, overall PS-JA (i.e., parental capacity to keep child in JA during the reading activity), as well as frequency and diversity of PS-JA during a new word introduction, and final word production.
Findings revealed that JA did not differ in parent-toddler reading a print vs a digital book for child JA, for overall PS-JA, nor for frequency of parental scaffolding of child’s JA during new word introduction (ps > .05). However, parents were found to use more diverse strategies of PS-JA during new word introduction in the print book compared to the digital book condition (Z=-2.19, p=.03). Finally, results revealed no statistically significant difference in the child’s final word production between the two book formats (p > .05).
Unlike our predictions, JA is not substantially affected by the type of book format during parent-toddler shared reading nor is the language learning in terms of a new word. Nevertheless, we found that parents use less diverse scaffolding strategies when reading a digital book with their young child. Given the importance of JA in language learning, future studies are needed in order to examine whether poorer language learning during digital book reading is accounted for by JA.
Single-case designs to assess the effectiveness of family orientation in early childhood special education on parents’ psychological and emotional state: A pilot study
University of Teacher Education in Special Needs
Early childhood special education (ECSE) focuses on the child with disability or developmental delay and his/her social environment, with family-oriented practice supposedly being critical to leading to sustained positive impacts on the child. Given the small and heterogeneous population, research on the effectiveness of ECSE interventions is complex and sparse. This pilot study aims at assessing the effectiveness of family-oriented interventions by the means of experimental single-case studies. This research design offers an idiosyncratic approach to examine the effectiveness of interventions and is thus particularly well suited in the context of ECSE interventions. Due to the novelty of the research in ECSE, the project aims at examining the feasibility and practicability of such studies. A series of single-case studies will be conducted during the regular ECSE that examine the effect of a family-oriented intervention on various aspects of parents’ psychological and emotional state (e.g., well-being, stress). The planned research design covers the period prior to the beginning of ECSE (baseline, A-phase), the beginning of ECSE (B-phase), and finally the family-oriented intervention (C-phase). Parents’ state is assessed repeatedly across all phases. Intervention phases begin at different times for different families (i.e., multiple-baseline design) to determine, whether a causal relationship exists between the introduction of the interventions (phases A and B) and the changes in parents’ state. The planned procedure and the benefits of single-case studies in the development of evidence-based practices will be discussed.
Using Feedback to Improve Monitoring Accuracy in Kindergarten Children
University of Bern, Switzerland
Recognizing errors is challenging for children. In the educational context, inaccurate self-monitoring and a lack of error recognition can hinder learning and successful preparation for elementary school. This study aimed to investigate whether kindergartners’ monitoring accuracy can benefit from feedback, by investigating effects of Performance Feedback (PF) and Calibration Feedback (CF), combining feedback on performance with feedback on monitoring. Kindergartners (ages five and six, n = 105) were assigned to either a PF, CF, or No-Feedback (NF) control group. They completed analogical reasoning tasks, and then monitored performance by indicating (a) whether responses for each task item were correct or incorrect, and (b) by making global self-reward judgments for performance on the entire task. Moreover, Working Memory (WM) was assessed to investigate individual differences in the ability to process feedback. Children were overconfident; they overlooked most of their errors and gave themselves inappropriately high rewards for performance. Although both PF and CF improved error monitoring, CF had more beneficial effects than PF on monitoring accuracy. In contrast, concerning self-rewarding, PF was most beneficial. The finding that only children with high WM optimally benefitted from CF implies that WM moderates feedback processing. CF may not be equally effective for all kindergartners. Feedback that only addresses performance may be easier to process, and therefore more suitable.
Effects of EST on communication outcomes for late-talking toddlers
1SHLR Schweizer Hochschule für Logopädie in Rorschach, Switzerland; 2Praxis für Logopädie Steinmaur
Late talking toddlers (LTT) often show difficulties in symbolic and individuation development (1). It is difficult for them to discover language in its representative and communicative function (3). Entwicklungspsychologische Sprachtherapie (EST, 3) considers the interaction between early language acquisition, development of symbolic and individuation. EST is clinically proven. However, there is little evidence on effects of EST and other treatments for LTT (4-9).
We conducted a pilotstudy to investigate the effects of EST on communication outcomes. Three children aged between 23 and 28 months were monitored for 9 months. Their competencies in language, symbolic, individuation and pragmatic-communicative development were recorded four times. We used standardized tests (10), structured observation (2, 3) and standardized interviews of parents (11).
All participants discovered language in its representative and communicative function. They improved their symbolic competencies and individuation development. In their communicative participation they made clinically important improvements during intervention (13 to 48 change scores) and during follow-up (22 to 37 change scores), except one participant.
Our results confirm the expectations from theory and clinical experience (1, 2,12,13). Compared to other investigations the progress during the follow up differs (6, 8), meanwhile the progress during the intervention phase is likewise shown in other research (4, 6, 8).
These results brought us to further research: we establish a larger-scale research project on EST and optimize the methodics and the selection of the instruments.
The role of parental distress for children’s happiness and energy level in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic: Initial results from an ongoing study.
Marie Meierhofer Institut Zürich, Switzerland
<p>Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, various measures were implemented by the Swiss government to contain the spread of the virus. While, unlike in other countries, a curfew was never issued, some significant temporary restrictions for families with young children included (1) childcare centers were closed, (2) in- and outdoor playgrounds were inaccessible, and (3) contact with peers and grandparents was discouraged. Many families had to find a balance between work-related duties, homeschooling, and the care of children of different ages and needs. The present ongoing study examines the role of parental distress in various life domains for children’s happiness and energy level as indicators of their well-being. The study is designed as a longitudinal study with four waves of assessment. Parents of 404 children aged up to three years (M=1.27, SD=0.61; 50,0% female) participated in the first assessment in March 2021. The next assessments are planned for June, September, and December 2021. Parents will report on their perceived distress in various life domains (e.g., family, friends, work, routines, physical and mental health). Further, parents will complete a diary on their own as well as their youngest child’s happiness and energy level (PANAVA-KS; Schallberger, 2005) during one week at each assessment. The longitudinal reciprocal association between parental distress and children’s happiness will be examined using preliminary data from the first three assessment time points. Furthermore, the moderating role of perceived social support, as well as the mediating role of parental exhaustion, will be explored.</p>
Does the Effect of Caregiver-Child Interaction Quality on Child Social-Emotional Competence Differ by Self-Regulation and Gender?
1University of Konstanz, Germany; 2Thurgau University of Teacher Education, Switzerland
The differential susceptibility hypothesis predicts that individuals differ in their sensitivity to environmental influences. In line with this, previous research found self-regulation and gender to moderate the effect of caregiver-child interaction quality on social competence in a sample of 2-year-olds in the Netherlands. The presented study aims to replicate these findings in a German setting. Data for this study were collected as part of a larger intervention study examining the effect of caregiver training on caregiver-child interaction quality. Caregiver-child interaction quality was rated with the observation tool CLASS toddler at baseline. Child gender, self-regulation, mastery motivation, prosocial behaviour, peer aggression, and task engagement were accessed through teacher questionnaires at baseline and after 6 months. 196 children (Mage=36.5 months, SDage= 16; Nfemale=136) from 20 day care groups are included in the analysis. Data will be analysed utilizing a linear mixed model in R. We hypothesize that caregiver-child interaction quality will have a stronger effect on child competence in children with lower self-regulation. Furthermore, we hypothesize that caregiver-child interaction quality will have a stronger effect on child competence in males. Data collection for T2 is still ongoing. The analysis will be completed at the time of the conference and will be presented on the poster. This study sheds light on the relevance of high-quality early child care for social emotional development for children with different prerequisites.
Development of Preschooler’s Emotion Regulation Competence: Exploring the Role of Peers
1Swiss Distance University, Switzerland; 2University of Konstanz, Germany; 3Thurgau University of Teacher Education, Switzerland
The development of emotional competence is a major milestone in early childhood. Deficits in emotion regulation have negative impact on children’s social and academic development. Children learn to select appropriate regulation strategies (self-regulation) through the input of others (co-regulation). Therefore, early socialization experiences within and outside the family play a crucial role for the development and interindividual differences in emotion regulation skills. Although peers are believed to influence children’s outcomes, there has so far been no research on peers’ exact role in children’s emotional competence. The current study aims to gain initial insights about whether and how peers act as emotion socialization agents. We hypothesize that (H1) the higher the mean level of classroom emotion regulation, the higher the increase in emotion regulation skills of individual children over time, and (H2) the higher the mean level of classroom empathic co-regulation, the higher the increase in emotion regulation skills of individual children.
To address the research questions a longitudinal study with three assessment points in 27 Swiss playgroups including N = 211 children (M = 43.3 months, SD = 6.5; 47% girls) was conducted. Playgroup educators completed a questionnaire on children’s emotion regulation competence, social behavior and empathy at each assessment point. To test the hypotheses, multilevel growth model with cross-level interaction will be conducted, after the study has been preregistered (registration prior to analysis of the hypothesis).
First results will be presented and the role of peers for developmental changes in preschoolers’ emotion regulation skills will be discussed.
Do preschool children identify the emotions of facemask wearing adults?
Centre Hospitalier universitaire Vaudois, Switzerland
<p>Introduction: During the COVID-19 pandemic, staff working in pre-school education were asked to wear facemasks, prompting worries about the ability of children to recognize the emotions of their caretakers. For pictures without facemasks, pre-schoolers between 36 and 72 months had a rate of correct responses between 11.8 % and 13.1%, whereas children between 7-13 years old, recognized emotions significantly better without facemasks than on pictures with digitally added facemasks. The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of facemasks on emotion recognition of preschool children.</p>
<p>Methods: We created a dataset of 90 pictures of adults with and without facemasks, displaying joy, anger or sadness. Children in 9 day-care centres were seated in front of a computer, and shown the pictures in succession. Children could either name the emotion, or point on a card showing emoticons of these three emotions.</p>
<p>Results: The sample consisted of 278 children (girls 48.6%, M<sub>age</sub>=52.3 months, SD<sub>age</sub>=9.6 months). The global correct response rate was 43.4%, without facemask 45% <em>vs</em> 41.9% with facemask (χ<sup>2</sup>=25.6, V=0.032, p< 001). The global rates were 90 % for joy, 24% for sadness and 15.5% for anger. There was no significant sex difference for the global correct response rate, nor for anger and joy. However, boys identified sadness (25.6%) more often than girls (22.3%, χ<sup>2=12.24, </sup>V=0.038, p<0.001).</p>
<p>Discussion: Facemasks had a statistically significant negative impact on the identification of emotions, with very small effect sizes, which should be reassuring for caregivers and parents.</p>
Parents, Children and Digital Media
1UPK Basel, Switzerland; 2University of Basel, Switzerland
Background: Mobile Devices are an essential part of our everyday life. Our smartphones grant access to work, entertainment, information, and even to other people – anyplace and anytime. This permanent accessibility offers many benefits but also bears some risks. For instance, smartphones may distract us from real-life social interactions with family and friends (technoference). The aim of this ongoing study is to examine a potential link between parental technoference during parent-child interactions and child socio-emotional development.
Methods: In a cross-sectional online study, we are collecting data from German-speaking parents with children aged 2-16 years. We assess parental technoference (Parental Scale of Phubbing), child developmental outcomes (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire), sociodemographic data, and different parenting-related factors. In the statistical analysis, we will explore the role of parental technoference in combination with socio-demographic and parenting-related risk factors for child development.
Results: Preliminary analyzes (N = 61) suggest an association between parental technoference and greater child behavioral problems. This association was driven by a significant relationship between parental technoference and internalizing, but not externalizing behavioral problems (t(54) = 1.82, p = .075).
Discussion: First findings suggest that parental technoference is associated with child behavioral difficulties. We will explore how this potential risk factor links with other risk- and protective factors to predict child behavioral problems. The findings from this exploratory analysis will generate new hypotheses, will inform future studies, and will also be relevant in the child psychiatric clinical setting.
Who benefits from what? Differential benefit of a web-mediated training for early childcare caregivers
1University of Konstanz, Germany; 2Pädagogische Hochschule Thurgau, Schweiz
High-quality caregiver-child interactions can positively influence child development. Studies in Switzerland and Germany demonstrate that most caregivers already provide good quality in emotional and behavioral support. However, they perform low on engaged support for learning. Emotional and behavioral support can be considered as the basis for active learning support: To stimulate learning interactions, caregivers need a number of basic competencies from the area of emotional and behavioral support like sensitivity, flexibility and perspective taking. Our web-mediated training for early childcare caregivers addresses these issues. The first four modules focus on supportive emotional and behavioral strategies in caregiver-child interactions. The last two modules focus on engaged support for learning. In the current study, we aim to investigate which modules and topics generate the most subjective benefit. Based on previous findings, we assume that the caregivers will have a stronger benefit from the second part (strategies on engaged support for learning), as this is the domain with the strongest potential for development. Moreover, we will investigate whether the subjective benefit is associated with the starting conditions (i.e. caregivers’ baseline interaction quality). To assess the baseline, we conducted standardized observations with CLASS toddler (La Paro et al., 2012) before the training attendance. After attending the training caregivers complete an evaluation questionnaire about their subjective benefit of the modules. Data collection of the evaluation questionnaire is still ongoing, a sample of 40 caregivers can be expected. CLASS observations showed the expected results: Caregivers are in mid to good-range of emotional and behavioral support (M=5.52; SD=.68) and in mid-range in engaged support for learning (M=3.48; SD=1.06). Data will be analysed with regression models controlling for participants’ professional experience and educational background.
Distinct influences of maternal mental health symptom profiles on infant sleep problems
1Institute of Higher Education and Research in Healthcare, University of Lausanne, Switzerland; 2Department Woman-Mother-Child, Lausanne University Hospital, Switzerland
<p>Aims: The distinct influence of different maternal mental health (MMH) difficulties (postpartum depression, anxiety, childbirth-related posttraumatic stress disorder) on infant sleep problems (ISP) is unknown, although MMH was reported to be associated with infant sleep. Moreover, the parent-infant interactive context (infant-related maternal cognitions, bedtime routine) can mediate these associations. Therefore, this study aimed to examine the differential influences of MMH symptom profiles on ISP, when mediated by maternal perception of infant temperament and by the method to fall asleep, and moderated by maternal education or infant age.</p>
<p>Methods: French-speaking mothers of 3-12-month old infant (n=410) participated in an online cross-sectional survey. Standardised questionnaires assessed sleep (night waking and nocturnal sleep duration), method to fall asleep, maternal perception of infant negative temperament, and maternal postpartum depression, anxiety, and childbirth-related posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. Sociodemographic data were also collected. Data was analysed using structural equation modelling.</p>
<p>Results: Birth trauma symptoms (e.g., childbirth-related flashbacks) were not associated with sleep, while the links between the depressive or anxious profiles and ISP were fully or partially mediated by maternal perception of infant negative temperament, depending on infant age or maternal education. The method to fall asleep did not mediate the link between MMH symptom profiles and sleep.</p>
<p>Discussion: Findings suggest that different mechanisms are involved in the relationships between infant sleep and MMH, depending on maternal symptomatology. Maternal depressive or anxious contexts already influence infant sleep within the first year postpartum. Consequences of childbirth-related trauma on infant sleep may develop later on.</p>
The influence of maternal intuitive eating and depression in pregnancy on early postpartum infant anthropometry in a population with gestational diabetes mellitus
1Obstetric service, Department Woman-Mother-Child, Lausanne University Hospital, Avenue Pierre-Decker 2, 1011 Lausanne, Switzerland; 2Institute of Higher Education and Research in Healthcare (IUFRS), University of Lausanne, Route de la Corniche 10, 1010 Lausanne, Switzerland; 3Neonatology Service, Department Woman-Mother-Child, Lausanne University Hospital, Avenue Pierre-Decker 2, 1011 Lausanne, Switzerland
Background and aims
Infants born to mothers with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) have a higher risk of obesity over their lifespan, compared to infants born to mothers without GDM. Yet, the contributing maternal behavioral and psychological mechanisms associated with this obesity risk remain obscure. Women with GDM have a three-fold higher risk of depression in comparison to women with no GDM during pregnancy. Depression has been associated to lower intuitive eating in the general population. Lower intuitive eating in pregnancy may lead to higher anthropometric outcomes in infants. This study aimed to 1) investigate the association between intuitive eating and depression symptoms in GDM pregnancy, 2) determine if maternal intuitive eating during GDM pregnancy was associated with infant anthropometric outcomes in the early postpartum, and 3) investigate if maternal depression moderated the described associations in 2.
The study sample consisted of women diagnosed with GDM between 24 and 32 weeks of gestation who participated in the <em>MySweetheart</em> trial at a Swiss university hospital. To measure maternal intuitive eating, an adapted Intuitive Eating Scale – 2 (IES-2) was used. Depressive symptoms were measured using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). Infant anthropometric outcomes were height, weight, z-scores, percentiles, the sum of four skinfolds (biceps, triceps, subscapular, iliac), and total body fat.
The data is currently being processed and results will be presented at the conference.
This study will help to identify the maternal behavioral and psychological pathways that may increase the risk of obesity in infants of mothers with GDM, thus allowing us to identify potential treatment targets.