Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Family studies

Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of MA in Child, Family and Community Studies to the Technological University Dublin, 2010.


By their very being, significant adults both impact upon and shape the young child’s development. This research explores what is known, understood, respected and reflected upon in the practises of early childhood professionals, with an emphasis on the interactive style of the adult, emotional development and the potential impact of adult-child interactions on the child’s holistic development. Through drawing on interdisciplinary research, including emerging theories of brain and emotional development, the work of past and current theorists and an examination of contemporary and best practice, the importance of the empathic adult who engages in positive interactions with the young child will be explored. A sample consisting of ten senior childcare practitioners participated in the present study. A qualitative research design was employed and semi-structured interviews were conducted; the data was then thematically analysed. Analysis of these themes highlighted the importance of adultchild interactions on the developing child, with particular reference to: the characteristics of the adult which enhance positive adult-child interaction; the context in which these interactions occur; the potential impact of such interactions on the developing child; strategies which can be adopted in order to enhance and increase positive interactions with young children. Findings are discussed with reference to potential implications for professional training and practice.