Young child-parent relationships

Publication type

Book Chapter

Series Number



Changing Relationships


Publication date

June 1, 2008


What do ‘better off’ parents do to improve their children’s pre-school environment, and as a consequence their achievements in education? The answer to it would enhance our understanding of intergenerational mobility enormously because of the strong relationship between educational achievements and lifetime income. It also has important implications for appropriate interventions in the lives of disadvantaged young children. In other words, what types of parent-child interactions and parental behaviour during children’s pre-school years are conducive to later educational and economic success, and how are they correlated with parents’ income, education or socio-economic group? In addition to such longer term consequences, child-parent interactions are likely to have direct effects on children’s well-being during childhood.
This chapter develops some measures of young child-parent interactions and suggests some partial answers to the questions posed above, thereby opening the ‘black box’ containing the mechanisms that produce associations between socio-economic status and children’s cognitive development. It uses the first two sweeps of the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS). The chapter demonstrates considerable variation across families in how parents interact with their children. Some of this variation is systematic. In particular, better educated mothers tend to ‘score higher’ on educational activities and better child-mother interactions with their young children. Such behaviour is likely to enhance the well-being of children during childhood. It also is associated with better cognitive development during the pre-school years. Supportive behaviour toward older children is also more evident among better educated mothers, and this behaviour is associated with better educational attainments for the children.

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 111-126 , p.111 -126



by Malcolm Brynin and John Ermisch (eds.)



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