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Cook, C. et al. (2019) Associations of physical activity and gross motor skills with executive function in preschool children from low-income South African settings (Journal Article)

Goldstein, T. et al. (2017) Dramatic pretend play games uniquely improve emotional control in young children (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Pretense is a naturally occurring, apparently universal activity for typically developing children. Yet its function and effects remain unclear. One theorized possibility is that pretense activities, such as dramatic pretend play games, are a possible causal path to improve children's emotional development. Social and emotional skills, particularly emotional control, are critically important for social development, as well as academic performance and later life success. However, the study of such approaches has been criticized for potential bias and lack of rigor, precluding the ability to make strong causal claims. We conducted a randomized, component control (dismantling) trial of dramatic pretend play games with a low-SES group of 4-year-old children (N = 97) to test whether such practice yields generalized improvements in multiple social and emotional outcomes. We found specific effects of dramatic play games only on emotional self-control. Results suggest that dramatic pretend play games involving physicalizing emotional states and traits, pretending to be animals and human characters, and engaging in pretend scenarios in a small group may improve children's emotional control. These findings have implications for the function of pretense and design of interventions to improve emotional control in typical and atypical populations. Further, they provide support for the unique role of dramatic pretend play games for young children, particularly those from low-income backgrounds. A video abstract of this article can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/2GVNcWKRHPk

Date:
January 2017
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
e12603
Synonyms:
  • Affective behaviour
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Experimental
  • Pretend play
  • Self-regulation
  • Social-emotional
  • Socio-economic background
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Goldstein, T. et al. (2018) Dramatic pretend play games uniquely improve emotional control in young children (Journal Article)

Abstract:
Date:
January 2018
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
21
Page/s:
e12603
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Goldstein, T. et al. (7/01) Dramatic pretend play games uniquely improve emotional control in young children (Journal Article)

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Date:
July 2018
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Volume:
21
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Smith, L. et al. (2011) Symbolic play connects to language through visual object recognition (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Object substitutions in play (e.g. using a box as a car) are strongly linked to language learning and their absence is a diagnostic marker of language delay. Classic accounts posit a symbolic function that underlies both words and object substitutions. Here we show that object substitutions depend on developmental changes in visual object recognition: 18- to 30-month old children (n = 63) substitute objects in play after they have developed the adult-like ability to recognize common objects from sparse models of their geometric structure. These developmental changes in object recognition are a better predictor of object substitutions than language or age. A developmental pathway connecting visual object recognition, object name learning, and symbolic play is proposed in which object substitutions are like the canary in the coal mine: they are not causally related to language delay, but their absence is an easily detected signal of a problem in language acquisition.

Date:
January 2011
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
14
Page/s:
1142–1149
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Language
  • Symbolic play
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Tunçgenç, B. et al. (2016) Interpersonal movement synchrony facilitates pro-social behavior in children's peer-play (Journal Article)

Abstract:

The emergence of pro-social behaviors and social interaction skills is a major focus of research on children's development. Here, we consider one important feature of human social interactions, interpersonal movement synchrony, and explore its effects on pro-sociality among young children. Coordinated movements are a crucial part of mother–infant interactions, with important social effects extending well into childhood. Musical interactions are also known to facilitate bonding between infants and caretakers and pro-sociality among peers. We specifically examine the pro-social effects of interpersonal movement synchrony in a naturalistic peer-play context among 4- to 6-year-old children. We assessed the amount of helping behavior between pairs of children following an activity that they performed synchronously or non-synchronously. Children who engaged in synchronous play, as compared with non-synchronous play, showed significantly more subsequent spontaneous helping behavior. Further, more mutual smiling and eye contact were observed in the synchronous condition and amounts of mutual smiling and eye contact during the movement task correlated with amount of helping behavior observed. Neither measure mediated the condition-wise effects on helping, however. These results are discussed in terms of their contribution to existing literature and their broader implications for the development of pro-sociality and coordinated movements in early childhood.

Date:
January 2016
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
Page/s:
1-9
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Experimental
  • Games with rules
  • Peers play
  • Pro-social behaviour
  • Social cognition
  • Social play
  • Social-emotional
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White, R. et al. (2016) What would Batman do? (Journal Article)

Abstract:

This experimental research assessed the influence of graded levels of self-distancing – psychological distancing from one's egocentric perspective – on executive function (EF) in young children. Three- (n = 48) and 5-year-old (n = 48) children were randomly assigned to one of four manipulations of distance from the self (from proximal to distal: self-immersed, control, third person, and exemplar) on a comprehensive measure of EF. Performance increased as a function of self-distancing across age groups. Follow-up analyses indicated that 5-year-olds were driving this effect. They showed significant improvements in EF with increased distance from the self, outperforming controls both when taking a third person perspective on the self and when taking the perspective of an exemplar other (e.g., Batman) through role play. Three-year-olds, however, did not show increased EF performance as a function of greater distance from the self. Preliminary results suggest that developments in theory of mind might contribute to these age-related differences in efficacy. These findings speak to the importance of psychological distancing in the expression of conscious control over thought and action from a young age and suggest a promising new avenue for early EF intervention.

Date:
January 2016
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
19
Page/s:
419-426
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Experimental
  • Pretend play
  • Social cognition
  • Social-emotional
  • Executive function
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Wolf, S. et al. (2019) The role of executive function and social-emotional skills in the development of literacy and numeracy during preschool: a cross-lagged longitudinal study (Journal Article)

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Date:
January 2019
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Volume:
22
Page/s:
e12800
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