News Release

Does children’s sensitivity to their parents’ praise affect their future mental health?

Peer-Reviewed Publication


A new study published in Developmental Science found that children who were more positively sensitive to their parents’ praise when they were 3 years old had fewer behavioral and emotional problems when they were 5–7 years old. Children whose behavior did not depend on their mood also had fewer behavioral and emotional problems later.

For the study, which involved 60 children, parents sent in videos of their 3-year-olds brushing their teeth each night across 16 days. Toothbrushing time served as a measure of child behavior. Investigators also noted the amount of praise that parents offered during toothbrushing and collected daily parent reports of additional variables including child mood. Childhood sensitivity to psychosocial influences was conceptualized as the strength and direction of the relationship between child behavior and those influences, including parent praise and child mood.

When their children were age 3 and then again at age 5–7, parents completed the preschool version of the Child Behavior Checklist to identify behavioral and emotional problems.

“An important future direction is to understand how childhood sensitivity to praise develops, and whether it can be shaped by interventions,” said corresponding author Cassidy McDermott, of the University of Pennsylvania.

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Additional Information
The information contained in this release is protected by copyright. Please include journal attribution in all coverage. For more information or to obtain a PDF of any study, please contact: Sara Henning-Stout,

About the Journal
Developmental Science is an international journal publishing contemporary scientific developmental psychology and developmental cognitive neuroscience research including registered reports. We publish work that bridges levels of explanation, such as from brain development to cognitive or social change, or work that specifically attempts to elucidate mechanisms of developmental change at one level.

About Wiley
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