Healthy child development: A multidimensional evaluation of parenting in the context of neighbourhood

Early childhood development (ECD) is a determinant of health and well-being across the lifespan. Recent results show that children’s developmental readiness at school is generally predicted by the socio-economic characteristics of the neighbourhoods in which they live. However, findings also reveal ‘atypical’ neighbourhoods, where neighbourhood socio-economic characteristics appear to have less influence on children’s development. One possibility in understanding these inconsistent findings points to familial and parenting influences on children’s health and development. Among families, parenting is a key factor in the protection, nurturing, and socialization of children, with important implications for developmental health. Parenting may also serve as an indirect pathway through which neighbourhood factors operate on young children’s health and development. Parents have a primary role in either transmitting or buffering neighbourhood influence on children’s development, especially during early childhood when children have quite limited direct exposure to the neighbourhood. Dr. Anat Zaidman-Zait is developing a multidimensional measure of parent-child interactions and will examine parenting in the context of the neighbourhood environment. Specifically, she will study parents of preschoolers from diverse neighbourhoods across BC, collecting information on parenting, neighbourhood socio-economic characteristics, parents’ perceptions of their neighbourhood, family demographic characteristics, and family and parents’ psychosocial functioning. Zaidman-Zait’s research promises to highlight processes through which families who are exposed to different conditions remain resilient and are able to successfully support the healthy early development of their children.