Theory-of-Mind development and early sibling relationships after the birth of a sibling: Parental discipline matters

Ju Hyun Song, Brenda L. Volling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study investigated relations among children's Theory-of-Mind (ToM) development, early sibling interactions, and parental discipline strategies during the transition to siblinghood. Using a sample of firstborn children and their parents (N = 208), we assessed children's ToM before the birth of a sibling and 12 months after the birth, and sibling interactions (i.e., positive engagement and antagonism) and parental discipline strategies (i.e., child-centred and parent-centred discipline) at 4 and 8 months in the first year of siblinghood. Structural equation modelling analyses revealed that children's ToM before the birth of the sibling predicted children's positive engagement with the infant sibling, whereas children's antagonistic behaviours towards the infant sibling negatively predicted children's ToM at 12 months, but only when mothers used low levels of child-centred discipline. These findings emphasize the role of parents in the development of young children's social-cognitive understanding in the context of early sibling interactions. Highlights: This study investigated relations among firstborns' Theory-of-Mind (ToM), early sibling relationships, and parental discipline during the first year of siblinghood. Multigroup analyses showed that ToM predicted higher sibling positive engagement, and early sibling antagonism predicted poorer ToM when mothers used low child-centred discipline. Parental discipline plays an important role in the development of young children's social understanding and sibling relationships as early as the first year of siblinghood.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2053
JournalInfant and Child Development
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research was supported by grants (R01HD042607 and K02HD047423) from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to Brenda L. Volling. We are grateful for the participation of the families of the Family Transitions Study.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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