loading page

Sensitive Versus Controlling Parental Behaviors Across Infancy: Does Gender Matter?
  • Hervé Tissot,
  • Gloria Repond,
  • Nicolas Favez
Hervé Tissot
Lausanne University Hospital

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Gloria Repond
University of Lausanne
Author Profile
Nicolas Favez
University of Geneva
Author Profile


While research has shown that sensitive and controlling parenting behaviors influence infant development, few studies have used a micro-analytic approach to compare the frequency of occurrence of these behaviors according to parent and child gender, and have examined how these phenomena change during infancy. This study aimed to investigate differences in the frequency of sensitive and controlling behaviors during parent-child play according to parent gender, infant gender, and time. Both parents of 67 families participated in dyadic play interactions when their child was 3 (T1), 9 (T2), and 18 (T3) months old. We took into account four types of behaviors: “observing and validating the infant’s behaviors” and “sharing joint activities with the child” were considered sensitive behaviors, whereas “stimulating the child” and “interfering with the child’s interest” were considered controlling behaviors. Results of generalized linear mixed models showed that mothers at T1 showed more interference than fathers did, whereas parents at T3 observed and validated girls less frequently than they did boys. Time effects showed an increase in interference and joint activities and a decrease in stimulation and observation, which suggests that the type of controlling and sensitive behavior changes as the child develops.