Our research aims to understand the foundations of healthy social and emotional development and the critical roles of parents. All parents agree to participate in research when they enroll their toddlers at the Toddler Center. Studies vary from year to year, but all aim to better understand early development and parenting, in typical and atypical circumstances. Barnard and Columbia students gain valuable experience as research assistants on the projects. 

A sampling of recent studies and publications/presentations from each:

Toddler Play

From everyday play to processing stressful and traumatic experiences.  This work looks at the role of play in toddler's play based on extensive observations of toddlers playing, and analysis of videotapes of toddler play.  Play is essential to how toddlers make sense of the world around them, learn to negotiate and interact with peers, to communicate their needs and experiences, and to process emotions.  One line of this work examines how young children use play to make sense of and work through stressful (i.e., ER visits) and traumatic (i.e., natural or manmade disasters, loss) events.

  • Klein, T.P., DeVoe, E., & Aratani, Y. (Jan., 2013) Young children’s play and responses to witnessing the WTC attacks: Implications for children after the tsunami. Morioka University, Morioka, Japan.
  • Bennett-Murphy, L. & Klein, T.P., Attachment, Separation, and Loss in the Toddler and Early Childhood Years. International Conference on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, London, England, July, 2012.
  • Evans, M., Resiak, N. & Klein, T.P. Creating Safety through Play: Communicating about Life Experiences, from Typical to Traumatic Events.  Global Summit on Childhood, Washington, DC., March, 2012.
  • Klein, T. & Grazi, S. Young Children's Play: Processing and Communicating about Emotions and Life Experiences. International Play Association Conference, Cardiff, Wales, July, 2011.
  • Klein, T.P., Grazi, S. How and why toddlers play:
  • Klein, T.P., Wirth, D., & Linas, K. (2003). Play: Children's context for development. Young Children, 58, 38-45.

Parenting Young Children Study (Work-Family Challenges for Parents)

Parenting Young Children Study is a qualitative study of parenting in the early years. Two hundred and forty parents (mothers and fathers) were interviewed about their experiences of becoming parents, being parents, the challenges and pleasures of parenting young children, and work and family issues.  We are currently analyzing the data, looking particularly at how parents balance and make decisions about work and family.

  • Klein, T.P., Miranda, C., Nofi, E. & Bresgi, G. (2006). Parenting Toddlers Today: Ins and Outs, Ups and Downs. Presentation at the Zero to Three Conference, Albuquerque, N.M.

World Trade Center Study of Young Children 

World Trade Center Study of Young Children is an NIMH-funded study conducted immediately after 9/11/01 on the effects of the WTC disaster on young children and parents.  Most of the 240 children in this study, ages 1-5, lived downtown at the time and directly witnessed the events.  This study is in collaboration with Dr. Ellen DeVoe of Boston University.

  • Klein, T. P., DeVoe, E. R., Miranda-Julian, C., & Linas, C. (2009).  Young Children's Responses to September 11th: The NYC Experience.  Infant Mental Health Journal.
  • DeVoe, E.R., Klein, T.P., Miranda, C. & Bannon, W. (2011).  Young children exposed to the attacks on the World Trade Center.  Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research Practice, and Policy, 3(1), 1-7.
  • DeVoe, E., Bannon, W., Klein, T.P., & Miranda, C.M. (2007). Post-9/11 mental health service help-seeking among a group of highly exposed New York City parents. Families in Society, 88, 311-316.
  • DeVoe, E., Bannon, W. & Klein, T.P. (2006). Post-9/11 Helpseeking by New York City parents on behalf of highly exposed young children. Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 76, 167-175.
  • Klein, T.P., Eddington, J., Miranda, C., Nofi, E., Setton, R., & DeVoe, E.R. (2005). Young Children’s abilities to Communicate about Traumatic Events: Responses to the World Trade Center Disaster. Presentation at the Zero to Three Conference, Wash. DC.
  • Klein, T.P., DeVoe, E., & Miranda, C. (2003). Impact of the World Trade Center disaster on young children at Ground Zero. Presentation at the Society for Research in Child Development, Tampa, Fla.

Parent-Toddler Socialization Study 

Parent-Toddler Socialization Study is a study conducted over a two-year period at the Toddler Center. This study looks at mothers and fathers thinking about their own children's early friendships and social interactions.

  • Tasopoulos, M., Katz, S., Linas, K., Garduno, J. & Klein, T. (2003). Mothers' and fathers' thinking about toddler peer interactions: Relation to parenting behaviors. Presentation at the Society for Research in Child Development, Tampa, Fla.

Toddler Imitation Study 

Toddler Imitation Study was conducted with a doctoral student at Columbia.  This study looks at early imitation in toddlers.

Other Publications:

  • Grimes, C., Klein, T. P., & Putallaz, M.  (2004).  Parents' relationships with their parents and peers:  Influences on Children's Social Development.  In J. Kuperschmidt & K.A. Dodge (Eds).  Children's Peer Relations: From Development to Intervention, 141-158.  Wash. DC: APA Press.
  • Klein, T.P., Pope, A., Getahun, E., & Thompson, J (2006). Mothers' reflections on raising a child with a craniofacial anomaly. Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal, 43, 590-597.
  • Grimes, C., Klein, T.P., & Putallaz, M. (2004). Parents' relationships with their parents and peers: Influences on Children's Social Development. In J. Kuperschmidt & K.A. Dodge (Eds). Children's Peer Relations: From Development to Intervention, 141-158. Wash. DC: APA Press.