Is there Evidence of Differential Socialization of Narratives About Traumatic and Nontraumatic Events

As just reviewed, there are some indications that children report more information about traumatic relative to nontraumatic events. The findings must be interpreted with caution, however, given other variables that vary across these event types (e.g., duration and impact of the event) and the basis for selection into some studies that afford direct comparison of the types of events. Indeed, with the length of the conversation controlled statistically, there is little evidence of differences in the level of detail children provide about traumatic and nontraumatic events. The one exception is the category of internal-states language, at least for older children. On the other hand, the mother-child conversations about the traumatic events featured greater narrative breadth relative to their conversations about the nontraumatic events. Learning to provide one's own perspective on an event and to tell the listener "the whole story" are major achievements in narrative development. They are also aspects of narrative development that are under the influence of socialization by children's conversational partners, most prominently their mothers. This raises the question of whether there is differential socialization of narratives about traumatic and nontraumatic events.

Differential socialization of narratives about traumatic and nontrau-matic events may be particularly likely given the uniqueness of traumatic experiences and the strong emotions associated with them. Children may be especially dependent on parents or other caregivers to help them interpret such strong experiences and gain perspective on them. Because the children in the St. Peter tornado study engaged in conversation with their mothers, and because the dyads talked about both the traumatic event and nontraumatic events, we have the opportunity to examine this question. Our approach is to first discuss relations between maternal and child variables at each of the time points (4 months and 10 months after the storm) and then discuss relations over time (i.e., whether behavior at Session 1 was related to behavior at Session 2 in systematic ways). Within each of these sections, we first examined relations between the variables that define maternal style (relative degree of elaboration relative to repetition)

and children's overall participation in the conversations (measured by the number of propositions they contributed). We then examined relations between maternal style variables and the amount of unique content that the children provided when talking about the tornado and the nontrau-matic events (i.e., the number of unique orientations, actions, connections, and evaluations they provided).

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