Discussion: Executive function and theory of mind

Discussion: Executive function and theory of mind

Discussion: Executive function and theory of mind

1. Cultural variation problematizes connections between executive function and theory of mind

In the study by Sabbagh et al. (2006), Chinese preschoolers had higher executive functioning compared to American preschoolers. Executive functions are related to several skills including:

Paying attention

Organising & planning

Initiating tasks and staying focused

Regulating emotions



a. What cultural differences (collectivism/individualism; uncertainty avoidance; power distance; short/long-term orientation) might have an effect in this difference in the development of executive functions in early childhood? How might we test the influence of each of these factors? If we knew the relative influence of these aspects of culture, what might we do with this info?

b. How does the variation across cultures found by Sabbagh and colleagues help us to understand the relationship between executive function and theory of mind? What questions does this raise? How might we study this further?

2. The challenges immigration may pose for pre-schoolers and families Top of Form

In Davies Chapter 10, the case example of Carlos is given: a three-year-old bilingual boy who appears to have selective mutism at school. At childcare he appeared to passively watch children play and would not engage in conversation. At home, his language development appeared to be appropriate for his age and he was equally adept in speaking both Spanish and English. At a home visit, it was discovered that Carlos’ mother, an immigrant, was homesick, longing for her home back in Panama. The clinician speculated that Carlos’ mother inadvertently communicated, through her own discomfort in America, that childcare for Carlos should be uncomfortable, too. Through efforts to bring home to child-care and childcare home, Carlos began communicating more readily and comfortably with his peers at childcare.

Aside from selective mutism in the case of Carlos, what do you think are other possible implications working with children of immigrant parents in pre-school?

What do you think are the responsibilities of the clinician to support the immigrant parent of a child in need of intervention at childcare, in addition to the child? From a multicultural perspective, what efforts do you think the clinician should take to integrate the child’s additional culture into play therapy?

What do you think preschool teachers can do to make the childcare environment comfortable, even when a child’s immigrant parent(s) may not be comfortable at home?

If Carlos’ mother’s homesickness continued to be an issue that affects his parent’s marriage and Carlos at preschool, how would you construct a play narrative for Carlos to help him understand what his mom may be feeling? Bottom of Form


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