WSJ: While the lives of many youngsters today are heavily documented in photos and video on social media and stored in families’ digital archives, studies suggest photos and videos have little impact. Parents play a bigger role in helping determine not just how many early memories children can recall, but how children interpret and learn from the events of their earliest experiences
Children who have the ability to recall and make sense of memories from daily life—the first day of preschool, the time the cat died—can use them to better develop a sense of identity, form relationships and make sound choices in adolescence and adulthood, new research shows.
Children with mothers who have a “highly elaborative style” of reminiscing with their kids, asking open-ended who, what, where and when questions, are able at ages 4 and 5 to recall earlier, more detailed memories than other children, research shows. Parents with a more “repetitive” style of reminiscing, who ask questions with one-word answers and simply repeat them if the child can’t respond, have children with fewer and less vivid recollections.
Some memories help build a sense of self-continuity, or personal identity, says a 2011 study.
Other memories serve a directive function, and guide behavior.
A third type, social-bonding memories, involve relationships with others. People recall these when they want to strengthen relationships or form new ties, the study says.
The ability to draw on all three types of memories predicts higher psychological well-being, a greater sense of purpose and more positive relationships, according to a study of 103 college students published last year in the journal Memory. The students were asked to recall four life events and cite reasons they regarded them as significant. Then they filled out assessments gauging their life satisfaction, self-esteem and psychological well-being.
Also, kids who can recall more specific memories are able to come up with more potential solutions to social problems, according to a 2011 University of New Hampshire study of 83 children ages 10 to 15.