Background: Praise from caregivers has been shown as an important influence on the development of social competence in early adolescence. However, the effects of praise in younger children have not been investigated. We examined how the trajectory of children's social competence from 18 months to 30 months of age was related to their caregiver's attitude towards the importance of praise at times when their child was 4 months and 9 months old. Methods: We studied 155 mother-child dyads, whose interactions during play were observed both when the child was 18 months and 30 months old, which was conducted as part of a Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) project. The child's social competence was assessed using the Interaction Rating Scale (IRS). Demographic data was obtained when the child was 4 months old, and the caregiver's attitude towards the importance of praise when the child was both 4 months and 9 months old. A logistic regression analysis controlling for the effects of demographic variables was performed. Results: We found that children who had received continuous praise from their mother when they were 4-9 months of age had a decreased risk of low social competence at 18-30 months of age. Conclusions: A mother's attitude towards the importance of praise at early stages of her child's development has an important influence on the later trajectory of social competence.
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