A plethora of psychological, physiological, sociological, cultural, and educational studies cannot accurately predict which skills and individual characteristics a toddler will possess when he/she becomes a mature. However, good family relations, on-going conscious care, parental support and responsiveness, and encouraging environment will significantly contribute to the development of an intelligent, well-educated, harmonious, endowed, and self-sufficient personality. Infancy, toddlerhood, preschool age, and adolescence are equally important in achieving the maturity. Therefore, parents’ awareness of the peculiarities at each stage of child’s development is a prerequisite for effective parenting styles.
Contributing the basis of further child formation, growth and development of toddlers are very important. Toddlerhood (ages 1 –3 years) is characterized by children’s transition to the vertical position; the given fact creates conditions for significant changes in their socio-emotional, cognitive, and moral development, perception of surroundings, and interactions with others. The modern mass media provide parents and educators with a wide range of publications related to the research on the development of toddlers, impacts of parenting styles, specific teaching methods, trends in pedagogy, and beneficial interventions during toddlerhood.
The publication “Understanding of self and maternal warmth predict later self-regulation in toddlers” provides findings of empirical research on both extra-individual (parenting) and intra-individual (cognition and attention) processes contributing to the development of self-regulation in toddlers. Self regulation involves visual attention, effortful control, and self-monitoring; it “is a broad concept that focuses on efforts to modify behavior to reach goals” (Jennings et al., 2008, p. 108). The background of the research, problem statement, hypotheses, and significance of the study identify crucial aspects of this issue. The researchers hypothesized that maternal warmth and depression, toddlers’ cognitive understanding of themselves and understanding of agency would predict the development of self-regulation in children while extra-individual processes would be dominant (Jennings et al., 2008, p. 109).
The major focus of the study induced the necessity to explore and assess theoretical grounds of the problem under scrutiny. The theoretical underpinnings of self-regulation and intra- and extra-individual processes have been elaborately explored and discussed by the researchers. Literature, related to self-regulation and processes associated with it, was thoroughly examined. The theoretical framework introduced the major theories that guided the study.The publication involved the review of 69 sources, which were used to select and gather relevant information. Thus, views and methods promulgated by Jennings et al. appeared to be persuasive and justifiable. The following key words were used in the publication to clarify the main aspects of the development of self-regulation in toddlers: early development; maternal depression; parenting; self-concept; self-regulation; toddlers.
The researchers provide detailed descriptions of the sample, procedures, and research methodology. Several demographic criteria such as mothers’ episodes of depression, marital status, education, and toddlers’ gender, ethnicity, and living conditions were considered while selecting participants. “Of the 134 toddlers who began the study, 120 completed the assessment of self-regulation at 34 months and 100 had complete data on all summary measures” (Jennings et al., 2008, p. 109). Mothers were interviewed about their symptoms of depression and observed while interacting with their toddlers. The development of self-regulation in toddlers was assessed at 34 months while their understanding of self-concept was evaluated between the 20th and 27th months.
The method designed by Kochanska and colleagues and was utilized to assess self-regulation. The scientists applied the standardized method to assess depression in mothers (SCID) and in the development of toddlers (the Bayley Scales of Infant Development). For the purpose of the research, it was assumed that participants would respond honestly during the interviews and that the study would be insignificantly limited by the veracity of the mothers’ responses. The participants were also informed that the interviews and visits would be video-recorded, their participation was voluntary and possible withdrawal would not result in any punitive measures.
In accordance with the main research findings, “toddlers’ have the understanding of self-as-object and understanding of agency as well as maternal warmth influence the development of self-regulation” (Jennings et al., 2008, p. 116). Furthermore, the results of the study testify to the importance of supportive and encouraging parenting in order to develop self-regulation in toddlers. Maternal warmth is identified as the major factor facilitating the development of self-regulation, irrespective of toddlers’ level of meta-cognition of self. The authors provide comprehensively described graphical images, tables, descriptive statistics, and numerical data of the research, the results and performed procedures in order to support their assertions. They critically evaluate the validity of their study and admit limitations of the utilized research methods.
The research findings emphasize the importance of parents’ conscious involvement in the development of toddlers. The development of self-regulation in toddlers is closely connected with further development of their emotional and social competences. Nothing can change parental support, warmth, and encouragement. Despite temporary difficulties associated with a toddler’s upbringing, parents should adjust their lifestyle, behaviour, and emotions to their child’s needs.
In conclusion, findings of the research pursued by Jennings et al. comprise a useful resource for parental education based on contemporary approaches to child development. Toddlers’ caregivers should increase their awareness of effective methods of child development. Parents’ interactions with toddlers significantly influence their development; games, activities, and communication should be based on progressive theories promulgated in pedagogical literature in order to facilitate children’s socio-emotional, cognitive, and moral development.