By Alison Clarke-Stewart

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Extra resources for Child Care in the Family. A Review of Research and Some Propositions for Policy

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It has been reliably observed that first-born and only children of preschool age are generally advanced in verbal and intellectual skills—at least until another sibling is born. First-borns have also been observed to be less self-confident, socially outgoing, popular, and aggressive, and more emotional, suggestible, and dependent than only children or later-borns at this age. As infants, first-borns are given more attention and affection and interact more with their parents; but when another child is born, parental attention is withdrawn, and the first-born children experience less affectionate interaction with parents than do only children or later-borns of the same age.

They respond more promptly and contingently to infants' frets and are more sensitive to what a fret might indicate. If they are in physical contact with the infant, they are more likely to use this proximity as an opportunity for further stimulation. They are less likely to punish the child physically, are less controlling, prohibitive, and intrusive, warmer, more understanding, and accepting. ) Far fewer differences related to socioeconomic status have been observed in children's behavior at this age than have been observed in their mothers.

There are still many unanswered questions, and even the information we have needs updating to keep pace with changing social values, family roles, and available child-care services. ) Effects of Maternal Behavior INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT. The mother continues to influence the intellectual development of the child in the preschool period. If IQ is taken as a measure of intellectual ability, the child's development seems to be related to the following pattern of maternal behavior: (1) the mother is sensitive, warm, and loving toward the child (as she was when he was younger); (2) she generally accepts his behavior and allows him to explore and to express himself; (3) when she does exert control over his behavior, she uses reasoning or appeals to his feelings rather than imposing "rules"; (4) she is capable of, and uses, more sophisticated and elaborate language and teaching strategies; and, finally, (5) she pushes—she is concerned about the child's development and actively encourages his independence and stimulates his growth (by frequent reading, talking, teaching, and playing with toys).

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