Parent and Sibling Interactions During Middle Childhood

Authored by: Laura Stafford

The Routledge Handbook of Family Communication

Print publication date:  November  2012
Online publication date:  November  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415881982
eBook ISBN: 9780203848166
Adobe ISBN: 9781136946370


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Only recently has middle childhood garnered serious research attention, as children's early experiences were once thought to be the driving, and even immutable, force behind adult development and behavior. An emphasis on the influence of early childhood left little room for interest in family interaction beyond the first few years (Goodnow, 2006). Over the past few decades this view has been substantively challenged. In 1984, a landmark report concluded that the experiences of middle childhood played a more critical predictive role in later adolescence and adulthood than did those of early childhood (Collins, 1984). In summarizing a more recent longitudinal series of studies Huston and Ripke (2006) reached a similar conclusion: “Although the preschool years establish the base for future development, experiences in middle childhood can sustain, magnify, or reverse the advantages or disadvantages that children acquire in the preschool years” (p. 2).

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