Parent-Child Conversations Before, During and After a Dental Exam: Links to Remembering
Beyer, Alisa M.
University of Kansas
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The current study extends and connects two literatures: one focusing on parent-child reminiscing and the other focusing on children's independent recall of a novel activity. This study explored how parents and children discuss one such event (i.e., first dentist exam) and how those discussions shape children's remembering of the event. Additionally, the study examined consistency in the quantity and style of parent-child discourse about the event across different naturally-occurring conversations as well as during a reminiscing assessment in which parents and children discussed two past events of their choice. Twenty-eight 3- to 5-year-olds who were having their first dental exam, and their parent, participated in the study. Car ride conversations to and from the dentist, during the dental exam, and during an elicited reminiscing task were recorded. One week later children were asked to recall the dental exam. The results revealed consistency in parents' style of talk across the naturally-occurring conversations, but less consistency in children's style across these three conversations. There were few similarities between the naturally-occurring and elicited conversations in either parent or child conversational style. However, children's conversation style mirrored their parents across all the conversations suggesting that parents are guiding children how to communicate in each context. Naturally-occurring discussions were related to children's memory for the dental exam, particularly for open-ended recall. These findings suggest preparatory talk from a knowledgeable person, and rehearsal is important in processing and remembering the event. In addition, findings suggested that parent-child narrative style in the ERT is not related to how accurate children are in reporting unrelated events. This work provides information about how everyday conversations children have with adults may influence the way children come to understand and remember novel events.
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