Making children laugh: parent-child dyadic synchrony and preschool attachment.Infant Ment Health J 2014 Sep-Oct; 35(5):482-94IM
The current study examined whether dyadic synchrony of father-child and mother-child interactions in a playful context were associated with attachment organization in preschool children. One hundred seven children (48 boys, Mage = 46.67 months, SD = 8.57) and their mothers and fathers (counterbalanced order of lab visits) participated in a playful interaction without toys (Laughing Task procedure). Playful interactions were coded based on the degree to which the dyads demonstrated a variety of behavior representing dyadic synchrony and task management. Children's attachment behavior toward fathers and mothers was observed in a modified separation-reunion procedure adapted for the preschool period. Results demonstrate that mothers and fathers are similar in their effort to arouse and engage their child in a playful context, but mothers achieved a greater synchrony with their child. Disorganized attachment to either mother or father is linked with a lack of synchrony in dyadic interaction. Findings are in contrast with prevailing theory, suggesting that despite gender-related differences in parental playful behaviors, dyadic synchrony is equally important in both mother- and father-child relationships for the development of organized social and affectional bonds.