The family triad - the interaction between the child, its mother, and father from birth to the age of 4 years old
Sammanfattning: The aim of this thesis was to describe how early triadic interaction between the newborn child and its mother and father begins, develops, and matures over the child's first 4 years of life. Systemic family theory and developmental theory are combined to go beyond the "mother-child" dyad to the "mother-father-child" triad. Lausanne Trilogue Play (LTP, originally Lausanne Triadic Play) was developed by Elisabeth Fivaz and her learn in Lausanne, Switzerland, and used to carry out standardised studies of child-mother-father interaction. The family is placed in a triangle that allows all three partners optimal access to each other. The focus of this thesis was to describe triadic interaction when all members of the triad interact with each other. It is based on a pioneering longitudinal and prospective study. It was begun with interviews when the parents were expecting their first child. The development of triadic interaction was then monitored by repeated, videotaped LTP observations when the child was 3, 9, 18, and 48 months of age. The study is part of an international collaboration to describe the development of triadic interaction in four groups: 20 Swiss German-speaking families, 20 Swiss French-speaking families, 20 American families (Seattle, Washington, USA), and 20 Swedish families. In Sweden, consecutive Swedish-speaking couples were recruited by midwives at a maternity health care clinic in Stockholm. Twelve boys and 8 girls were born. To analyse the children's communicative skills in relation to their behaviour at age 4 years, the preschool teachers were asked to fill in the Preschool Behaviour Questionnaire (PBQ). The author developed the Child-Parents-Interaction Coding System (CPICS) to analyse quantitative and qualitative variables in triadic interaction. The CPICS was used to analyse LTP observations of the Swedish families over time and to compare the Swedish and American groups of families. One child, a girl, exhibited a typical development. At the age of 5 she was referred to a child and adolescent neuropsychiatric department where, at the age of 7 years, she was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. She was excluded from the group analysis and instead presented as a case report. When the children were 3 months of age, parents held back concerning contribiltion (the starting point for a sequence of interactions) and allowed the "child's just being- to launch conversation. This pattern persisted up to 48 months, with the parents giving the child space. Types or child contributions varied over time. When the child was 3 months old, its parents treated all its behaviours as contributions for starting points of conversation, while child contributions at 48 months generally had a communicative character. Coparenting seems to set the structure for early communication by using various nonverbal, vocal, and verbal methods to support the child in turn-taking sequences. A cultural difference in the tempo of play between American and Swedish families was found. Although both groups of families interacted in a synchronized and reciprocal way, the pace of play in triadic interaction was taster in American families. Positive correlations between complex triadic interaction (number of turn-taking sequences) at 3, 9, and 18 months (significant at 9 months) and preschool teachers' assessments of children's social competence at 48 months suggest some predictive power of this variable in the assessment system. The autistic girl and her parents exhibited deviations in early triadic communication - most clearly when she was 9 months old. Findings are discussed regarding their importance concerning early interventions in the family system.
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