A comparison of the supervision behavior of mothers and fathers of toddlers in a contrived injury-risk situation

MacIsaac, Trevor John
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University of Guelph

Unintentional injury is the leading cause for death for Western children, but research in this field is in its "infancy" (Schwebel & Gaines, 2007). Behavioral data on 'both' parents is particularly lacking. In the current study, mothers and fathers were unobtrusively and independently videotaped with their toddlers (n=48) in a "waiting room" containing contrived hazards and attractive non-hazards. Measures were taken of the childrens' interactions with the objects and of the parents' supervision when there was a hazard interaction. Nearly all the children (92%) interacted with one or more of the contrived hazards, and the proportion of hazard interactions did not vary by sex of child. When these hazard interactions took place, parents' supervision was rated as high or moderate only 40% of the time, and when they observed the interaction, they surprisingly only intervened 40% of the time. Implications for children's injuries and directions for future research are discussed.

unintentional injury, children, hazard interactions, parent supervision