Mutuality in parent-child play: Consequences for children's peer competence

Eric W. Lindsey, Jacquelyn Mize, Gregory S. Pettit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


This study examines links between relative balance, or mutuality, in parent-child play and children's social competence. Thirty-five preschoolers and their parents were observed in a laboratory dyadic play session. Videorecords were coded for play initiations and compliance to partner's initiations. Mutuality was operationalized as the relative balance in (a) rate of play initiations between partners and (b) partners' compliance to these initiations. Ratings also were made for dyadic synchrony, based on the extent to which parent and child shared the same focus of attention and engaged in reciprocal and responsive interaction. Children's social competence was assessed with teacher ratings and sociometric interviews. More synchronous mother-child and father-child dyads had higher mutual initiation and mutual compliance scores. Mutual compliance was associated with higher levels of social competence. For father-child dyads, this association held even after controlling for individual dyad members' rates of initiation and compliance. It is argued that parent-child mutuality in play provides children with an opportunity to practice mutual regulation and accommodation, a behavioral style that may translate to cooperative peer play.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-538
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Mutuality in parent-child play: Consequences for children's peer competence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this