Parenting predictors of cognitive skills and emotion knowledge in socioeconomically disadvantaged preschoolers

Emily C. Merz, Tricia A. Zucker, Susan H. Landry, Jeffrey M. Williams, Michael Assel, Heather B. Taylor, Christopher J. Lonigan, Beth M. Phillips, Jeanine Clancy-Menchetti, Marcia A. Barnes, Nancy Eisenberg, Jill de Villiers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


This study examined the concurrent and longitudinal associations of parental responsiveness and inferential language input with cognitive skills and emotion knowledge among socioeconomically disadvantaged preschoolers. Parents and 2- to 4-year-old children (mean age. =. 3.21 years, N=. 284) participated in a parent-child free play session, and children completed cognitive (language, early literacy, early mathematics) and emotion knowledge assessments. Approximately 1. year later, children completed the same assessment battery. Parental responsiveness was coded from the videotaped parent-child free play sessions, and parental inferential language input was coded from transcripts of a subset of 127 of these sessions. All analyses controlled for child age, gender, and parental education, and longitudinal analyses controlled for initial skill level. Parental responsiveness significantly predicted all concurrent cognitive skills as well as literacy, math, and emotion knowledge 1. year later. Parental inferential language input was significantly positively associated with children's concurrent emotion knowledge. In longitudinal analyses, an interaction was found such that for children with stronger initial language skills, higher levels of parental inferential language input facilitated greater vocabulary development, whereas for children with weaker initial language skills, there was no association between parental inferential language input and change in children's vocabulary skills. These findings further our understanding of the roles of parental responsiveness and inferential language input in promoting children's school readiness skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-31
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Early childhood
  • Emotion knowledge
  • Language development
  • Parenting
  • School readiness
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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