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Is caregiver gender important for boys and girls?: Gender-specific child-caregiver interactions and attachment relationships

Outcomes of studies with exclusively or predominantly female caregivers suggest that boys in child care are involved with interactions, attachment relationships, and care of lower quality than girls. We investigated to what extent child gender (N = 38, 19 boys) and caregiver gender (N = 38, 19 males) is associated with child-caregiver interactions and attachment relationships. Children's involvement and caregivers' sensitive and stimulation behaviors were observed using systematic observations of semistructured play. Children's secure attachment with caregivers was observed using the Attachment Q-Sort. Research Findings: Male and female caregivers showed similar sensitive behaviors toward boys and girls, and children had similar levels of secure attachment with male and female caregivers. Female caregivers had a tendency to stimulate boys more than girls, and this behavior was associated with a lower secure attachment in boys. Girls' involvement with the caregiver was associated with male and female caregivers' sensitive behavior and with male but not female caregivers' stimulation. Conversely, boys' involvement with the caregiver was elicited by sensitive but not stimulating behavior of male caregivers but not by female caregivers. Practice or Policy: Boys and girls can have equally positive interactions and attachment relationships with both male and female caregivers. (author abstract)
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Reports & Papers

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