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The impact of family relationships on children's developmental health: Child versus context effects

  • Jenkins, Jennifer (Principal Investigator)
  • Perlman, Michal (Principal Investigator)
  • Leckie, George (Co-Investigator)
StatusFinished
Period1/03/1228/02/13

Description

Children's developmental health is a product of dynamic and reciprocal relationships between what they are like and what their environments are like. We focus on how social disadvantage (e.g., poverty, living in risky neighbourhoods) and the quality of children's family relationships (e.g., positivity/negativity in children's interactions with their parents) influence one another to predict how well children do over time. The relationships children have with people around them are a key determinant of their social, emotional and cognitive wellbeing. Understanding what drives these relationships is critical to our ability to support children's optimal development. However, understanding interpersonal relationships is complex because it is currently unclear how much the characteristics of individual children (e.g., a child's level of aggression), the characteristics of people they are interacting with (e.g., their sibling's level of aggression) and the characteristics of the dyad drive the quality of their relationship. In addition, research has shown that once genetic factors are accounted for siblings are very different from one another, despite the fact that they are raised in similar environments. It possible that children elicit different reactions from their environments so that their environments are less similar than one might expect. Or, differences between children may lead them to react differently to their similar environments. Disentangling these effects requires rich data that account for genetic, family and social disadvantage. We are requesting funds to build on a large, CIHR funded dataset that provides precisely the kinds of data needed to study these complex questions. It also builds on sophisticated statistical techniques developed by the project team that allow us to make attributions about what sends children on different developmental trajectories using correlational data.

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