We often ask the parents to fill out standardized and internationally well-used questionnaires that ask questions about the participating children’s behavioral tendencies. We believe that the parents are an important and valid source of information as they are the ones that know their child the best and have experience with her/his behavior in different situations that we cannot measure in the lab. Examples of behaviors that we ask about are aspects of the child’s social, cognitive, and motor development, temperament, emotion regulation skills, and aspects of the parent and child relationship, activity levels and attention abilities.
When the participating children are in the preschool age, we sometimes ask the parents’ permission to send out questionnaires to the child’s preschool teacher/s to get an idea of the child’s behavior in an environment outside the home. Teachers’ ratings are also valuable to use since they usually have experience of what is typical for children at different ages.
Together, these ratings make up a very important source of information about individual differences in behaviors that sometimes that can be linked with the behaviors and abilities that we measure in the lab. Using questionnaires about children’s behaviors, feelings, and characteristics therefore gives us a fuller and more complete picture on children’s development thus contributes to more reliable findings.