Parenting as an investment in child development: what matters and when?
Dr Angela Gialamas
The University of Adelaide
Parents “invest” in their children’s health and development in many ways, but not all parents have the same resources to invest. Less parental investment is a key mechanism for inter-generational transmission of socioeconomic disadvantage. In Australia we have no comprehensive picture of how parents invest in their children at different ages. This project will identify the parenting investments that matter most for children’s development, and when these investments matter most. This is central to informing interventions to improve outcomes for disadvantaged children.
Dr Angela Gialamas, Dandara G. Haag, Murthy N. Mittinty and John Lynch.
The aim of this project was to begin to identify which parenting investments matter most, when they will have the greatest impact, and on what outcomes.
To answer our research question we utilised information from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. From the time-use diaries the amount of time children spent on 11 activities were analyzed: personal care; emotional care; screen time; listening to music; educational activities; play; physical activity; not sure what the child was doing; social activities; child was bored/doing nothing; and organised activities/lessons.
Results show that relative to other investments time spent in educational activities at 2-3 years of age yielded the greatest return for higher receptive vocabulary and reduced externalizing problem behaviours at school entry.
We then examined whether the association between the amount of time spent in educational activities at 2-3 years of age and outcomes at school entry differed among children from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Results showed that children who were exposed to lower time in educational activities as well as being from low income households were at greater risk of poorer outcomes at school entry.
These results suggest that time invested in educational activities at 2–3years of age yield the greatest return for children’s receptive vocabulary and behaviour at school entry.
“Which time investments in the first 5 years of life matter most for children’s language and behavioural outcomes at school entry?” authored by Gialamas, A., Haag, D., Mittinty, M. and Lynch, J, and publisehd in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
Gialamas, A., Haag, D., Mittinty, M. and Lynch, J. (2018). The influence of parental time investments on children’s cognitive and socio-emotional outcomes at school entry. Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference: What matters most to families in the 21st century? Melbourne, Australia.
Gialamas A., Mittinty, M. and Lynch J. (2017). Parenting as investments in children’s health and development: What matters most, when and on what outcomes? Women’s and Children’s Health Network and Healthy Development Adelaide Grand Round. Adelaide, Australia
Haag D., Gialamas A., Mittinty, M. and Lynch J. (2017). The influence of parental time investments on children’s cognitive and socio-emotional outcomes at school entry. School of Public Health, University of Adelaide, Research Symposium. Adelaide, Australia