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Parent-Child Interview and Analysis Project
Purpose: There is nothing like an interaction with a real life parent and child to
demonstrate the nuances of development and underscore the uniqueness of every family
situation. To apply the concepts examined in this course, you will be conducting an
interview of a parent in a home environment where you can observe her/his interactions
with a child aged up to 3 years old. You will be asking specific questions about the child’s
developmental history, evaluating the child’s temperament and behavior, assessing the
quality of the home environment, and identifying strengths and risk factors for the parentchild dyad. I would like you to pay particular attention to the quality of the attachment
between the parent and child. After you have finished the interview, you will write up the
results and follow this with an analysis of your findings, using concepts from the course
Instructions: Arrange to meet with a parent and child in their home environment. The
parent should not be a relative of yours. The child should be no older than 3 years of age.
Explain that you are doing a project to learn about typical child development, and you want
to ask some questions about the child’s developmental history and the parent’s experience
as a parent. You would also like to observe how the parent and child interact and play
together/his. You will need to take notes for your project. In order to safeguard
confidentiality and to put the family at ease, please do not tape record the interaction.
Observations: Observe the parent and child interacting together/his for at least 30
minutes. Use the observation guidelines in the Davies textbook that correspond to the
For infants (0-12 months), use the guidelines on page 167, “Infant-Parent Assessment:
What to Observe”.
For toddlers (13 months or older), use the guidelines on page 231, “What to Observe”.
Make sure you write down the answers to each bullet point in your final report.
Before you conduct the interview, read through the “Concerns/Red Flags” on the pages
listed above that correspond to the age of the child you will be observing. Look for any
concerns/red flags and note them in your final report.
For observations and concerns/red flags related to peer and social interactions, ask the
parent questions about this, since you will not have the opportunity to observe these
While you are in the home environment, notice any developmentally appropriate
accommodations to the child (e.g., child-proofing, age-appropriate toys, space allotted for
Review Heffron’s Parent-Child Interaction-Observation Tool prior to the visit, and fill it out
during or after the visit to submit along with your final report.
Ask the following general interview questions, and record the answers in your final report.
Tell me about your pregnancy and the delivery of your child.
How did you decide on your child’s name?
How did the first few months with your infant go?
What do you consider to be the most unique, special, and positive things about your
When did your child begin sleeping through the night?
How would you describe your child’s eating habits? (picky eater, regular eater, etc.)
How easy was it to get your child on a regular eating schedule as an infant?
How active has your child been? How would you compare his/her/his activity level to
other/his siblings or children that you know?
How easily does your child adapt to changes in his/her/his routine (e.g., sleeping,
eating, babysitters, child care, etc.)?
How moody or fussy has your child typically been since infancy?
Does your child seem overly sensitive to noise, tight clothing, light, or other/his
How would you describe your child’s attention span, compared to siblings or
other/his children his/her/his age?
How does your child typically handle separation from you when you leave
him/her/his with a babysitter or in daycare? How does he/she typically react when
you return from a brief separation?
What have been the most enjoyable or satisfying aspects of parenting your child?
Writing the Report:
Write up your final report, including the observations and answers to the interview
questions. To protect the family’s confidentiality please do not list the names of the parent
or child; use pseudonyms (e.g., Jane and John Doe).
Note whether/his you think the child has an easy, difficult, or slow to warm up
temperament, and explain your reasons. Describe whether/his or not you think the child has
a secure attachment, and explain your answer.
Summarize your conclusions about the child’s development, and the quality of the parentchild relationship, using concepts from the textbook and/or research articles covered in this
course. Note strengths for the parent and child, as well as potential risk factors.
The conclusions section should be about 2 typed, double-spaced pages long.
End the paper with one or two paragraphs summarizing your reactions to the interview,
anything surprising that you learned from the experience, and remaining questions or
concerns you may have.
Turn in the report along with the completed Parent-Child Interaction-Observation Tool.
Enjoy your time with the parent and child! Most parents value the opportunity to
share their experience with someone who is genuinely interested.
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