02 March 2010

Special Post for Parents of Three Year Olds

I have a friend who is a developmental psychologist. Her area of specialty is imaginary companions. I know! How cool is that? I had imaginary companions when I was growing up, twin boys named, inexplicably, Quaker and Dagger. Go figure.

Tracy does work outside the realm of imaginary companions, though, and I was lucky enough to participate in her latest research endeavor. She and some colleagues have put together a survey that aims to help them better understand what makes three year olds the way they are. To that end, they want some parents of three year olds to tell them—totally anonymously and in a multiple choice way—about some of their child's early experiences.

Not only will you be furthering science and our understanding of what early parenting behaviors shape Three into what we know and love, you will also have a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card by participating. Nifty.

The survey took me about 20 totally painless minutes to complete, far fewer than their advertised 45 minutes. Not sure what that says about me or my early parenting experiences. There are questions about discipline, snuggle time, and feeding, among others. Please, if you have a three year old, help Tracy to help science. Here's her ad:

Mothers with 3-year-old children: Win $100!

Complete parenting survey which will help a university center with its new research.
Answer questions about you and your child’s early experience (anonymous data collection).

As part of your participation, you can enter a lottery for a $100 Amazon gift certificate.
The survey takes about 45 minutes in one sitting.

Please click the link below to go to the survey:


If you have trouble with the link, copy and paste


Goddess in Progress said...

My kids aren't three yet, but I posted the link on Twitter in case that snags a few more people. :-)

Anonymous said...

Interesting survey...I enjoyed taking it. There was no place for feedback but you might want to mention to your friend that the corporal punishment questions maybe should specify if it's just for the mom or for the dad too. My husband occasionally spanked our daughter and I never did. (fortunately he stopped!)

MJT said...

Do you know if she sees many kids with imaginary "places"? I have twin 3 year olds daughters and one of them has what she calls a "pink house" and talks about it almost daily! She has friends there (who usually have names similar to our friends in reality), she has a pink car and pink pets there. It is quite an elaborate story really. I have yet to know somebody with a child that has a "place" like this. If you have heard her talk of this though I would love some reassurance! :-)
Thanks! Will do the survey next!

Victoria said...

Oh, I'd love to buy my daughter is only 2 1/2! Hopefully she gets enough people, and I'd love to see the results when they're ready!

mek said...

Love it - my imaginary friend was the Big Bad Wolf - I loved him so much. What a great field of study!

Snickollet said...

Liz--Thanks for the extra publicity!


uberimma said...

I just did it. Feeling a bit uncomfortable because there is no real way to specify, on the questions about physically punishing your child, something like "each of my kids got smacked once in their lives when they ran into the street, and never did it again." I think the option was "once a week or less" or "never" and I checked "once a week or less." Hope I haven't been marked as a child abuser!

Jen said...

I always enjoy telling Science about myself! Though I found I wanted to explain some of my answers, because for example I really WANT to hug and kiss my daughter, and sing with her, but she doesn't want me to. She pulls away, says "don't kiss me", tells me to stop singing, etc. I don't take it personally, but it does make me a little sad that I don't have a cuddler.

Snickollet said...

Thanks, everyone, for participating. I'm going to tell Tracy to come take a look at the comments here if she hasn't already.


Anonymous said...

I had trouble with the spanking question too. We have spanked, but may be twice in the last year. Then after I finished there was the note about not recommending spanking and directing us to child abuse websites. Ouch

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous,

Everyone got to the same page with the abuse helpline, it didn't seem to be only for those who employed corporal punishment. Just so you know.

What A Card said...

Hmmm, my boys are 4 already :( Though when they were 3 they did come up with a pretty elaborate imaginary friends/place...Inkos and Inko planet. They each have their own inkos, and tell me all about where they live, what they eat, etc (though N-man likes to tell me quietly all the time that B-man is wrong about what his inkos do! It cracks me up that he thinks he's in charge of B-man's imaginary friends!) At 4 and a half, they still talk about them, though not nearly as much as they did last year.

Mark said...

Interesting: fathers can't participate without pretending to be a mother. Apparently it's research about specifically mothers of three-year-olds rather than parents (plural). Either that or it's just a poorly-designed survey.

Soon, Then said...

Quaker and Dagger? That is seriously awesome.

j said...

Just to let other people know, the survey is designed for a mom plus father (whether the father is present in the kid's life or not). I had difficulty answering some of the questions since I'm the biological mother and my 3 year old has another mother as well, my wife.

Anonymous said...

I've been following your blog for a while...never posted...but oh how funny! I know Tracy too. Small world. I think of the bloggers I follow as my own "imaginary friends." :-)

Prophecy Girl said...

Can I participate if I am living in Canada?

Tracy said...

Survey person here--Just wanted to answer some questions:

Absolutely we would love mothers from Canada.

Indeed, this survey is only for moms. This project is a pilot for a bigger study we want to do with whole families, and to limit the number of different variables we had to control we are currently focusing only on moms since they are still most often the primary caregivers. But don't be fooled--we think dads are critically important! We just can't study everyone at once.

My apologies to the two-mom family (families) for the father-assumption. We are equally interested in your experience--not just those of heterosexual families. I believe there is a question at the very end that asks if we should know anything else, and you could put a note there.

The poster who noted that the phone numbers and whatnot for alternatives to corporal punishment went to everyone is quite right. Since we ask questions about it we wanted to make sure that people don't think that we are advocating for it--that's all. We are not in ANY way judging you as parents.

Now, as for the imaginary companion things...an imaginary place is wonderful. Nothing odd or even unusual about that. Sounds like a lovely thing for her--she can tell you stories and be the expert, which is a role that most 3-year-olds don't get all that often.

I'll check back in case more questions come up, and thank you so so much to everyone who has participated. We will be sure to share our results!

Anonymous said...

I tried to take it but I guess me and my daughter are second class citizens because she is adopted. Ok, yes I am a bit pissed off. I will get over it. Honestly, this is the first time since we adopted her that it was an issue and I dont like this feeling. Maggie

Snickollet said...


I'm sure Tracy will respond directly, but I want to say that I'm sorry you feel that way. I don't think that was the intent of the survey, but I don't want to invalidate the way you feel in any way. I can only imagine how painful and icky that must be.

My understanding from Tracy is that the reason for excluding adoptive mothers and their children is the same rationale behind excluding fathers: this data needs to be normed and standard. (Not sure those are the right words--Tracy will be able to help.)

Again, I'm sorry this made you feel bad in any way.


Anonymous said...

Snickollet, Thank you for posting such a nice note. I have calmed down enough to realize that I used improper english in my note (a pet peeve) and should have said my daughter and I (not me and my daughter). :) It really was a wake up call for me - I imagine more will come and hopefully I can handle the feeling a bit better. Maggie

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

I love answering questions that don't begin with "Do I have to...?"

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

Ok, I did the survey and I have a few comments. The question "What kind of interventions did you have during or immediately after birth?" should have none as an option.

Secondly, this question: "If Vivi was in Special Care or Intensive Care, at what point were you able to start holding him/her for extended periods?" My daughter was never in special care but I couldn't move on without answering this question.

Third, there are questions in the beginning about whether or not we sleep-trained. I found this hard to answer since Vivi was a great sleeper from the beginning and we didn't need to do any training. I would have if the situation called for it. I didn't think the question took that into consideration or maybe I am missing something here?

Lastly, in the agree/disagree section I wasn't sure how to answer the point, "It doesn't matter what the mother does, the baby is born with its own personality." I think there are a lot of us out there who agree that our babies are born with their own personality BUT still think that the behavior of the mother matters. It is not an either/or.

OK, I'm done. Thanks for passing along this opportunity, Snick!

Tracy said...


We are so sorry to have made you feel that way. Believe me, the issue is about OUR limitations, and in NO way remotely a commentary on adoptive vs. birth parents. Snick was right about why we have the limits we do. We would very much like to study every type of family configuration (and honor them all) but we don't have the funding to do so. We do not believe that one configuration is better than another or that biology is what makes a family. We hope that in the future we will be able to study every kind of family configuration. Our apologies to those who are excluded based on our limited resources.

Tracy (and colleagues)

Tracy said...

Hey Everybody,

Survey person again--just wanted to let you all know that I am keeping track of all of the feedback you have provided. Our funding won't allow for us to make changes to the survey now, but you have made many excellent suggestions that we will be incorporating into our research going forward. Thanks so much!


Anonymous said...

It hurt my heart to find out I couldn't participate since my 3 year old is adopted. Seems ridiculous. Do you include children born to surrogates? Children born of egg donation? Ridiculous!