What we do

We study how families talk about things in their lives and how that relates to children’s development and well-being. Our research helps parents and adults—such as teachers and medical and legal professionals—in talking with children about their experiences and supporting children’s healthy development.

How we do it

Families who participate in our studies visit the GROWTH Lab on UTSA’s Downtown Campus.  At the lab, we ask parents to talk with their children about times from their past—such as a time the child was happy or scared. Children help our student assistants with fun and educational activities while parents are asked questions about their family and child’s development. We later ask children to tell us about what they did with the student assistant. These general procedures have been used for decades and helps us to understand how parents and other adults can best support children’s development and well-being.

What we learn

We learn how various aspects of parent-child interactions and children’s social and cognitive development influence children’s well-being, including their memory and narrative skills. With this information, we help parents and professionals who work with families and children to support families and help children thrive.

How we share

Families who participate in our projects are provided the upmost confidentially regarding what they share with us. We never share your individual information with others without your explicit permission to do so (and we never share identifying information, such as your names). We work with hundreds of families and combine the information from all families to identify trends happening within the larger group. The big-picture ideas that we have learned from talking with many families will be published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at professional conferences, workshops, and trainings. People outside of our team will never have a way to know if you participated and what you shared with us.

Student Training  

Families who participate in our projects are providing meaningful experiences of our undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students—many of whom later work with families and children in a professional capacity after completing their degrees. All of our student assistants have extensive experience working with children and families and have received a lot of very specific training to work with families in our various projects. They also learn about the research process and develop a deep respect and understanding for the importance of research in supporting healthy families.