Emotion recognition is an important developmental achievement in early childhood. Grounded in theoretical concepts of family systems theory and the spillover effect, the goal of the current study was to examine whether prenatal spousal support predicts toddler emotion recognition at 24 months, and whether this association is mediated by parental embodied mentalizing (PEM) at 6 months. PEM refers to the parent's capacity to understand the infant's mental states from his or her whole-body kinesthetic expressions and adjust their own kinesthetic patterns accordingly. One hundred and five families expecting their first child were included in the study. Results indicated that maternal PEM mediated the relationship between prenatal dyadic positive and overall support and toddler emotion recognition. Paternal PEM was not found to be related to either dyadic support or to toddler emotion recognition, and it did not mediate the relationship between the two. The findings of the current study support the importance of including both parents’ embodied mentalizing and a systemic approach to illuminate child development. A significant clinical implication from this study is the usefulness of prenatal couple interventions to improve mutual support and communication as it can promote parents’ parental mentalizing and ultimately the child's emotion recognition capacity.
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© 2022 International Congress of Infant Studies.
- Child Development
- Child, Preschool