Associations between parents’ number talk and management language with young children

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Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology

APA citation

Clements, L. J., LeMahieu, R. A., Nelson, A. E., Eason, S. H., & Dearing, E. (2021). Associations between parents’ number talk and management language with young children. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 73, 101261.


Evidence from a growing body of observational and experimental studies indicates that parent math talk is a key input supporting early mathematical thinking. Very little research, however, has been dedicated to understanding parenting or family correlates of math talk. In the present study, we examined relations between parents’ number talk and their management language (i.e., the extent to which parents were controlling versus autonomy granting). Management language is predictive of children’s executive functioning and, thereby, may also be relevant to math learning. During semi-structured play interactions with their young children (n = 49), parents who engaged in more number talk also used more autonomy supportive management language than did parents who engaged in less number talk, and this association was strongest once controlling for children’s number talk. Our findings also provided preliminary evidence of variations in this association by parent education level: number talk and management language were more strongly associated for parents with less than a 4-year college degree than for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.