This study examines links between relative balance, or mutuality, in parent-child play and children's social competence. Thirty-five preschoolers and their parents were observed in a laboratory dyadic play session. Videorecords were coded for play initiations and compliance to partner's initiations. Mutuality was operationalized as the relative balance in (a) rate of play initiations between partners and (b) partners' compliance to these initiations. Ratings also were made for dyadic synchrony, based on the extent to which parent and child shared the same focus of attention and engaged in reciprocal and responsive interaction. Children's social competence was assessed with teacher ratings and sociometric interviews. More synchronous mother-child and father-child dyads had higher mutual initiation and mutual compliance scores. Mutual compliance was associated with higher levels of social competence. For father-child dyads, this association held even after controlling for individual dyad members' rates of initiation and compliance. It is argued that parent-child mutuality in play provides children with an opportunity to practice mutual regulation and accommodation, a behavioral style that may translate to cooperative peer play.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science