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Research into social influences on young children’s growing understanding of others’ inner states has highlighted the value of early conversational exchanges. This longitudinal study was aimed at investigating whether and how mothers changed their inner state words when children were 16 months olds (T1) and 4 months later (T2), and the children’ s ability to use references to mental states at 20 months. Overall language measures (e.g. number of words, mean length utterances) and internal state labels were analyzed during play interactions at T1 and T2 for the mothers, and at T2 for the children. Results highlighted that the mothers partially modified their mentalistic vocabulary over 4 months. Moreover, the use of maternal references directed to the other at T1 is linked to the children’s ability to use references with a commentary function at T2. Conversation with the caregivers during daily activity may constitute, for children, a key practice to enhance their metarepresentation skills.
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- References to Mental States in Mother–Child Conversation in the Second Year of Life
- Springer US