OBJECTIVE. In early intervention programs, parents are often asked to teach their child new skills. As fathers are increasingly involved in intervention, clinicians need more information on fathers’ unique interactive style. This pilot study compared mothers’ and fathers’ parent–child interactions during a teaching episode to identify similarities and differences in order to better understand parents’ strengths.

METHODS. The Nursing Child Assessment Teaching Scale was used to observe 10 mothers and 10 fathers interacting with their 10- to 28-month-old children in their homes. The children were receiving early intervention for a motor delay. The Caregiver Scores (parent’s contribution to the interaction) of mothers and others were compared using paired t tests.

RESULTS. Mothers had more optimal interactions as indicated by significantly higher Caregiver scores than fathers, t (9) = 3.83, p = .004. The subscales with statistically significant differences were Caregiver Contingency and Cognitive Growth Fostering. Children's scores when they interacted with their mothers or fathers did not differ.

CONCLUSION. When observing fathers teaching their child new skills, therapists should remember that fathers of children with motor delays (and typically developing children) may use a more task-oriented communication style with less consideration of the child’s actions than do mothers.

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