Psychology News – Researchers from the University of Otago explored how mothers sharing memories with their children in early childhood years affects their mental health. The study explored the long-term impacts of a conversational technique called “elaborative reminiscing”.
Understanding The Technique
Elaborative reminiscing comprises a technique that parents use to hold open and responsive conversations with young children about every day past events and activities. It is actually training to help people engage in better sharing of memories, as well as more sensitive and responsive conversations.
The researchers followed up from a previous study that assigned 115 participants—all of whom were mothers of toddlers—to either a control group or training sessions in elaborative reminiscing for a year. After a gap of 14 years, the researchers surveyed the adolescents whose mothers participated in the earlier study when they were toddlers.
The results, published in the Journal of Personality, showed that adolescents, whose mothers were coached in elaborative reminiscing, were more coherently communicative about their lives. Especially when it came to sharing memories from the difficult phases of their lives (like experiences of parental divorce, cyber-bullying, or grief), they could convey more insightfully how these experiences shaped their lives.
These adolescents also showed greater psychological well-being, with fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, in comparison to the adolescents whose mothers were put in the control group.
The Way Forward
The researchers confirmed that the technique of elaborative reminiscing can impactfully influence child development and the adult years of a child’s life.
One of the lead researchers, Professor Elaine Reese, elaborates, “We believe parents’ elaborative reminiscing helps children develop more complete, specific, and accurate memories of their experiences, providing a richer store of memories to use when forming their identities in adolescence.”
The researchers are enthusiastic that studies like this could spread awareness about the importance of early childhood years and promote healthy parent-child interaction that can prevent mental health difficulties in life.
To Know More You May Relate To
Mitchell, C., & Reese, E. (2022). Growing Memories: Coaching mothers in elaborative reminiscing with toddlers benefits adolescents’ turning-point narratives and wellbeing. Journal of personality, 10.1111/jopy.12703. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/jopy.12703