In reviewing topics in psychology and interpersonal communication, Vivienne M. Colegrove and Sophie S. Havighurst studied the topic of how important nonverbal communication between parent and child are for the child’s learning of socialization and the relationships that the child will have in the future. Nonverbal processes start to play a huge role in a child’s development once they begin to speak and understand language. Nonverbal skills include facial expressions, the vocal tone, body language, and gestures that are vital to social skills and emotional well-being in all cultures. In these relationships, parents influence their child’s secure attachment by the way that the parent would respond to their child’s expressions of emotion. The way that a parent responds could also affect their child’s relationship with others later as an adult. “A parent’s ability to understand and respond to their child’s nonverbal cues, which may communicate the need for support, signal relational distress, or function to activate Caregiving behavior” (Colegrove). This means that in order for the child to trust the parent, the parent needs to respond accordingly and correctly to the child’s need. This could be a problem, for the “nonverbal messages can show a direct contrast with the verbal messages which cause children to have a hard time reading the emotion” (Colegrove 2017).
In their study, Colegrove and Havighurst found articles that had already had interventions tested to help parents and children with their nonverbal communication, they used randomized control trials and then used longitudinal follow-up data with the parents and children. They concluded on twenty-eight articles that talked about nonverbal behavior and that used individual modalities of delivery. They “excluded parent-child interventions that did not state they addressed NVC in publicly available research studies and manuals, interventions that assessed, but didn’t address the parent-child interaction,” (Colegrove 2017). The interventions that actually did address nonverbal communication were not prone to their empirical evaluation. They selected articles using methods that identified and coded specific components of nonverbal behavior systematically.
These measures relied on capacities that people find the most difficult, namely recognition of internal states and functioning reflectively. The twenty-eight studies included less than half of reports that used measures that had clinical samples and had testing of the reliability and validity of the measures done. The remainder of the twenty-eight articles were small samples of different studies that represented a different nonverbal communication assessment tool that used nonverbal observing and “self-report measures to examine the relation between nonverbal communication and other variables using a variety of study designs including correlations and comparison research studies, baseline data collected as part of randomized controlled trials” (Colegrove 2017). They put each of the these in relation to the specific nonverbal behaviors of the interest, the theoretical frameworks used and the contribution of these to what is being assessed. “Behaviors that have been assessed include movement, facial expression, posture, gesture, voice quality and tone, sense of timing, and touch” (Colegrove 2017). These behaviors are all examples of nonverbal communication between a parent and their child.
I feel that this study would help more if there were less limitations involved. Not many interventions that were found actually met Colegrove and Havighurst’s search criteria and of these small interventions, only English language publications were utilized in their research. They could have widened their search a little bit and maybe include some studies that were published in different languages that work in their favor. Another limitation was that nonverbal communication wasn’t publicly announced in the articles but were in the unpublished manual. It made it hard to determine whether or not nonverbal communication is the important aspect of these interventions. In the future, intervention development may already be informed by existing nonverbal assessment tools, may have already established good reliability and validity, and the intervention may have proved to help with forming intervention as well as a outcome measurement. Therapists would need to make better use of these tools to measure the impact on their clients. Nonverbal assessment information does not appear to directly inform formulation of nonverbal intervention strategies that may need to be re-evaluated to measure the effectiveness of the intervention. Given the primary need of nonverbal communication for effective parenting and parent-child communication, it is highly recommended that nonverbal communication is assessed and addressed as much as possible as the main role of the intervention, the development, and the evaluation of nonverbal communication. These outcomes should be applied in future studies to help parents secure the attachment that they have with their child while in the process of using nonverbal communication. I feel what made Colegrove and Havighurst’s study unique was that they reviewed studies that were already focused on nonverbal communication. They really just reviewed and kind of followed the technique of the study at hand then showed evidence on whether or not that article was a nonverbal based article.
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