Place of origin likely to influence children’s behaviour
Negative emotions such as anger or frustration are more frequently observed in the infants who are from a rural family background than their urban counterparts, suggests a recent study. It has shown that babies who are born in big cities are less likely to be fussy and are not as bothered by the limits set by their caregivers.
The study was published in the Journal of Community Psychology.
The Washington State University psychologist Maria Gartstein and WSU graduate student Alyssa Neumann led the study. It examines differences in infant temperament, parent-child interactions and parenting stress between families of similar socioeconomic and racial composition in the Inland Northwest and the San Francisco Bay Area.
The researchers found urban moms tend to be better at picking up on when their babies wanted or needed something, or were ready to be done with play, and responding accordingly. This, in turn, could have led to their infants generally being calmer and less easily upset.
Rural moms reported more frequent expressions of negative emotions from their infants, particularly when they were distressed due to limitations.
The fact that rural mothers in our study reported more frequent expressions of anger and frustration from their infants may be consequential as higher levels of frustration in infancy can increase the risk for later attentional, emotional, social and behavioural problems,” Gartstein said.
Gartstein said the next step in the research will be to try to pinpoint exactly what it is about living in a rural vs. urban context that causes the differences in temperament between the two groups.”For example, access to mental and behavioural health services and child-rearing resources tend to be limited in more rurally situated communities,” she said.
For the study, Gartstein, Neumann, and colleagues at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and the Seattle Clinic analyzed and compared data from two previously conducted studies of mother-child interactions and infant temperament.
The first study consisted of 68 participants and their infants in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the second consisted of 120 rural mothers and their infants from Whitman and Latah counties in the Inland Northwest of the United States.
Mothers used a questionnaire to record the frequency of 191 different behaviours their child displayed at 6 and 12 months after birth. The researchers then analyzed babies along 14 different dimensions that ranged from cuddliness to vocal reactivity. Parent-child interactions, where mothers were instructed to engage their infants in play in a typical fashion, were also video-recorded in the laboratory for analysis.
Gartstein said one of the more surprising findings from the study was that contrary to predictions, her team found no statistically significant differences in levels of parenting stress between urban and rural caregivers.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)