Coparenting is assessed by recording two caregivers interacting with their child while playing together, completing a building task and then tidying up toys. These recordings are then coded to see how much each of the parents are enjoying the interaction, the amount they cooperate when they interact together, the amount one parent may block the other parent’s attempts at playing with the child and how much each parent participates in the interaction. Coding these key aspects of the coparenting relationship allows for researchers to gain an understanding of the quality of this relationship and how it manifests in day to day interactions.
The purpose of the trip was for Ellen and Marina to be trained in this coding measure and to ensure that both the UK and Dutch research teams were coding the videos the same way. After two days of watching videos, coding and discussions, the team reached a good level of reliability in their coding. Ellen and Marina can now use the coding scheme to code the videos being recorded in the research being carried out in the UK. This will lead to new insights in to the ways in which the coparenting relationship affects child development as well as coparent’s wellbeing and mental health.
In addition to learning about the coding scheme, they also had the chance to hear more about the innovative research being carried out in the Centre for Child and Family Studies. One of their current studies is investigating the ways in which parents interpret their child’s behaviour. Their research suggests that if the parent attributes responsibility to the child and interprets their child’s behaviour as hostile, this could linked to a higher risk of abuse. For example when a child knocks over a drink, the parent can either interpret this as the child doing this purposely to annoy them (the child is being naughty) or whether it was accidental (the child is being clumsy). In addition the team also presented on a newly developed version of the VIPP programme for use with children who are in foster care. This was especially interesting as both Ellen and Marina are involved on a trial (The Healthy Start Happy Start study) which is using a version of the same programme (VIPP-Co).
In addition to learning a lot from the team in Leiden Ellen and Marina also got the chance to explore Leiden. They also experienced Koningsdag (King’s Day), which is a national holiday in the Netherlands, and brought back lots if packets of Stroopwafel (syrup waffle biscuits) to remind them of their trip when coding hours of videos back in their office in London.
Author: Ellen Grimås