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"No! Don't! Stop!": Mothers' Words for Impending Danger

Summary: "No! Don't! Stop!": Mothers' Words
for Impending Danger
Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda, Karen E. Adolph,
Katherine A. Dimitropoulou, and Elizabeth Zack
Objectives. In 2 studies, we aimed to describe the content of mothers' verbal
warnings to their young children and to investigate whether mothers modify
their warnings based on the type of dangerous situation and children's age.
Study 1. Mothers of 12-, 18-, and 24-month-olds reported in a telephone inter-
view the words and phrases they would use to prevent their children from fall-
ing, touching dangerous objects, ingesting poisonous substances, and running
away. The words "no," "don't," and "stop" were the most frequent warnings
across ages. Mothers also used warnings to elicit their children's attention, reg-
ulate children's location, modify children's actions, and to highlight the proper-
ties and consequences of specific dangers. The content, diversity and complex-
ity of mothers' warnings varied with children's age and the type of dangerous
situation. Study 2. We observed mothers in the laboratory as they warned their
12- and 18-month-old children not to walk down 50 slopes. As in Study 1,
mothers primarily relied on the words "no," "don't," and "stop," but again
used warnings to elicit attention, regulate location, modify actions, and de-


Source: Adolph, Karen - Center for Neural Science & Department of Psychology, New York University


Collections: Biology and Medicine