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Between Terror and Trust: Patterns of Parent-Infant Communication in Play
Unformatted Document Text:  psychological consequences, and it is not our primary objective in this presentation to address what these may be. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that a variety of childhood and juvenile games requires the child to master the task of arousing a fearful response to danger in a way that spurs the child on in enjoyment rather than making him or her cower in fear. Even young children’s chase games and play fighting, games which later develop into Cops and Robbers, certain types of competitive sports, and adversarial video games, involve the arousal of a fear response in the context of play. Outside of play itself, the ability to remain confident in the face of adversity is obviously of primary significance. In cognitive terms, the type of communicative interactions we observe between fathers and their male or female infants appears to favor the development of complex capacities for forming what Fauconnier and Turner (1996) term mental spaces. These are constructs whose purpose it is to segregate information of differing representational status. In pretend play, for instance, the child must be capable of creating a reliable and robust distinction between what is done for pretend and what is done for real. This is not simply a matter, however, of not taking the pretend space seriously. For pretense to function as an effective pedogogical device, and for the father’s pretense to succeed as scaffolding for the child, the child must respond to the content of the pretend space in a manner that closely parallels the way she would have responded if the simulated event had taken place for real. It is this simulation requirement -- the requirement that the child take the pretense seriously -- that makes the game of monster cognitively challenging. Since this challenge involves strong emotions that resonate with the infant’s basic urges for safety and survival, we feel that the value and complexity of the lessons taught in these seemingly frivolous games should not be underestimated. Whle the infant appears

Authors: Kyas, Jirina. and Steen, Francis.
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psychological consequences, and it is not our primary objective in this presentation to
address what these may be. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that a variety of childhood
and juvenile games requires the child to master the task of arousing a fearful response to
danger in a way that spurs the child on in enjoyment rather than making him or her cower
in fear. Even young children’s chase games and play fighting, games which later develop
into Cops and Robbers, certain types of competitive sports, and adversarial video games,
involve the arousal of a fear response in the context of play. Outside of play itself, the
ability to remain confident in the face of adversity is obviously of primary significance.
In cognitive terms, the type of communicative interactions we observe between
fathers and their male or female infants appears to favor the development of complex
capacities for forming what Fauconnier and Turner (1996) term mental spaces. These are
constructs whose purpose it is to segregate information of differing representational
status. In pretend play, for instance, the child must be capable of creating a reliable and
robust distinction between what is done for pretend and what is done for real. This is not
simply a matter, however, of not taking the pretend space seriously. For pretense to
function as an effective pedogogical device, and for the father’s pretense to succeed as
scaffolding for the child, the child must respond to the content of the pretend space in a
manner that closely parallels the way she would have responded if the simulated event
had taken place for real. It is this simulation requirement -- the requirement that the child
take the pretense seriously -- that makes the game of monster cognitively challenging.
Since this challenge involves strong emotions that resonate with the infant’s basic urges
for safety and survival, we feel that the value and complexity of the lessons taught in
these seemingly frivolous games should not be underestimated. Whle the infant appears


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