The Influence of Emotions on Parent-Child Narratives
Authors:Kyung Hwang, Jennifer Palisoc
Mentor:Nathalie Carrick, Associate Professor of Child and Adolescent Studies, California State University Fullerton
The Influence of Emotions on Parent-Child Narratives Authors: Jennifer Palisoc and Kyung Hwang, California State University Fullerton Mentor: Nathalie Carrick, PhD., Child and Adolescent Department, California State University Fullerton Fantasy is an important part of the preschool years. Children are exposed to it everyday through mediums such as books, television, and toys. Past research has found that children are able to discriminate between fantasy and reality; however, they seem less competent when the information is emotional (Carrick & Ramirez, 2012). That is, across both fantasy and reality, children report that happy and sad events are real, but that frightening events are not real. The current study pursued a possible reason for children’s errors, specifically the influence parents have on children’s understanding of fantasy and reality. Sixty-three 3 to 5-year-olds and their parents read stories that depicted real and fantastic events that varied by emotion: happiness, sadness, and fear. Parent-child narratives were coded for parents’ use of emotional language, the amount of time spent on each emotion, distinctions between fantasy and reality, and statements relating the story to the child. Preliminary analyses revealed no differences in parent-child narratives between the fantasy and reality conditions. However, differences were present across the three emotions. Parents tended to discuss emotions more as well as use more emotional language when reading sad or frightening stories than happy stories. Parents related the happy stories to the child’s life more often than the sad and frightening stories. Neither parents nor children made reference to the fantastic events being unreal. These findings suggest that emotions have a stronger influence on how fantasy and reality are evaluated than does the fantastic or real context itself. Implications for the influence of emotions and parents on children’s emerging cognitive and emotional development will be discussed.