Early Development of Empathy in Toddlers: Effects of Daily Parent–Child Interaction and Home-Rearing Environment

Authors

  • Lian Tong,

    1. School of Public Health, Fudan University, Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)/Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society (RISTEX), Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences, University of Tsukuba
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  • Ryoji Shinohara,

    1. Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)/Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society (RISTEX), Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences, University of Tsukuba
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  • Yuka Sugisawa,

    1. Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)/Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society (RISTEX), Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences, University of Tsukuba
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  • Emiko Tanaka,

    1. Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)/Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society (RISTEX), Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences, University of Tsukuba
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  • Yuko Yato,

    1. Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)/Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society (RISTEX), Ritsumeikan University
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  • Noriko Yamakawa,

    1. Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)/Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society (RISTEX), Sukusuku Cohort Mie Research Group, Mie Central Medical Center
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  • Tokie Anme,

    Corresponding author
    • Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)/Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society (RISTEX), Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences, University of Tsukuba
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  • Japan Children's Study Group


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Tokie Anme, School of Comprehensive Human Sciences, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1 Tennodai, Tsukuba-shi, Ibaraki-ken 305-8577, Japan. E-mail: TOKIEANME@gmail.com; candicelian@yahoo.com.cn

Abstract

The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine the effects of (a) parent–child interaction and (b) home environment on the early development of empathy in toddlers. A total of 176 Japanese families (both young children and their parents) were enrolled in this study. Laboratory assessment of children's empathy development and caregiver's rearing competence was made during a controlled observation of parent–child interaction. The results of this study suggest that of all the factors examined, the degree of parent–child interaction, the stability of long-term parenting practices, parental attitude, and mother's mental health status were correlated with development of empathy in children. These findings provide new indicators for the development of individualized intervention methods for use in clinical practice.

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