The Effects of Parent-Child Creative Activities on Early Childhood Resilience: A Multi-Methods Study of Cross-Cultural Differences and Similarities

  • Nicolas Verger

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This thesis investigates the contribution of parent-child creative activities to young children's resilience, a topic that has received little attention in creativity research. Using a pragmatic methodology that combines quantitative and qualitative approaches, this multi-method doctoral project addresses three research questions: (a) Do parent-child creative activities contribute to young children's resilience factors? (b) What processes could explain the effects of parent-child creative activities in promoting young children's resilience factors? (c) What are the similarities and differences between two Western countries' (Great Britain and France)cultures that could account for the effects of creative activities on young children's resilience factors?

This thesis opens with a bibliometric network analysis review (n = 454), which highlights the scarcity of studies addressing resilience abilities in early childhood. It identifies that creativity research strongly tends (a) to be biased towards the study of creativity as a dependent variable rather than as a predictor; (b) tends to rarely address the outcomes of creative activities among the population of children aged between 3 and 6 years; and (c) tends to rarely study the effects of creative activities on resilience-related outcomes in general, and particularly among young children. Then, a systematic review (n = 26) provides evidence that creative activities may contribute to other resilience outcomes: positive parent-child relationships, positive emotions, reduced cortisol levels, and increased emotion regulation abilities. A meta-analysis (k = 9) further shows that creative activities strongly contribute to two other resilience factors: inhibition and school readiness. Moreover, it identifies a moderate effect size on working memory, another important factor in resilience promotion.

Aiming to understand more specifically dyadic and cross-cultural parent-child behaviours in creative activities, the thesis then reports the findings from a reflexive thematic analysis (n = 14). This study shows how and why parents in Great Britain and in France engage in dyadic creative activities with their children: according to them, creative activities are enjoyable, contribute to parent-child relationship quality, and the development of the child’s competence. While this cross-cultural qualitative study highlights similarities between the British and the French parent-child dyads, cross-sectional data (n = 169) identifies differences. Based on a scale designed for the purposes of this research (the Parent-Child Creative Activities Checklist), imagination activities (e.g., pretend play, story creation, Lego) and craft activities (e.g., drawing, painting, making) are associated with a positive parent-child relationship and low parent-child conflict in the British sample, but not in the French sample.

To understand why, cross-cultural comparisons were conducted to analyse moment-by-moment parent-child interactions during creative activities, using audio recordings provided by the parents (n = 17). A main difference lies in that British dyads appear more collaborative and more focused on idea elaboration than the French. This thesis concludes with a theoretical contribution and summary of this thesis’s findings, aiming to inform interventional research. Thus, the Parent-Child Creative Partnership model posits that, when parents adopt attitudes that support children’s basic psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness (for instance by helping their children elaborate their ideas and by valorising their resulting creative productions), dyadic creative activities promote positive parent-child attachment, children's sense of self-efficacy, and self-image. Hence, this thesis shows how, when, and for whom dyadic parent-child creative activities contribute to important assets for immediate early childhood well-being, and future resilience.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Glasgow Caledonian University
SupervisorKareena McAloney-Kocaman (Supervisor), Julie Roberts (Supervisor) & Jane Guiller (Supervisor)


  • creativity
  • creative activities
  • resilience
  • early childhood
  • parent—child relationship
  • attachment
  • self-determination

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