Help Your Child Cherish Early Memories
From The Thinking Parent newsletter
To provide your children with the most memories of their own past, you should discuss past events with them often. This may help your child feel that reminiscing about the past is a valuable activity. In addition, when you do, you should use a style both high in structure and autonomy support. If you use a style low on both of these, then your child will be less likely to remember the event.
To do this, you should elaborate by asking your child open-ended questions about the event, providing a structure for the event and providing a richness of detail to the memory. Furthermore, following in on the child’s perspective will help the child remember the event from his or her own perspective. In this way, they can put forth their own contributions to the conversations and have a sense of ownership of the past event.
Both will help your child remember the event in the long term. If either have a definite agenda for the child and discuss events from your perspective or provide little elaborative detail, your child will be less likely to remember events from his or her past.
Source: Cleveland, E.S., & Reese, E., March 2005, Maternal structure and autonomy support in conversations about the past: Contributions to children’s autobiographical memory, Developmental Psychology, 41, 376-388.
© Jennifer Hahn
NFO contributor Dr. Jennifer Hahn is the editor of The Thinking Parent, a quarterly publication reviewing research of interest to parents: child development and parenting, pregnancy and childbirth, physical health, mental health and education. With more than 12 years of experience in research at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Dr. Hahn received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and completed her residency at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center. She is the mother of two daughters.