NUI Galway study wants parents’ input on understanding children

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Galway Daily news NUI Galway is surveying hundreds of parents on understanding children's behaviour

Strange, alien creatures that they are, there’s still a lot we can learn about children and how parents can form strong bonds with them.

A team of researchers at NUI Galway is looking to hear from 1,000 parents for their ‘Childin Mind’ survey of parents’ experiences with their children.

They hope that through this they can better understand how parents can better understand what’s going on inside their kids head, and what their behaviour means.

The researchers are keen to hear from both fathers and mothers of children aged from two up to 18 years, and in particular the experiences with their eldest child.

Noella Lyons from the School Psychology at NUI Galway, explained, “This research hopes to explore a concept called reflective functioning.”

“This relates to how we understand the thoughts, feelings, intentions and behaviours of ourselves and of other people.”

“Through research like this we are beginning to understand more about the importance of how strong parent-child attachment can protect children’s social and emotional wellbeing, thereby leading them to become more resilient as teenagers and adults,” she concluded.

Young children in particular often don’t have the language skills to explain their feelings, so they act out to express it.

In the case of older children, it can take more exploratory work by parents to find out what they’re feeling that’s causing issues.

Dr Jonathan Egan, who is co-leading the study with Dr Lyon, said they hope their finding will help existing parenting programmes become more effective.

“Feeling like you are being an effective parent builds up a sense of being in control of your family’s direction and also leaves you feeling like a better and more competent mum or dad, which can only be a good thing.”

The survey only takes 10-15 minutes to complete, if someone is interested in contributing they can fill it out online here.