There is nothing to fear!

March 30, 2022

Since our project Neo-PRISM-C aims to study neurodevelopmental disorders which emerge early in development, many of our sub-projects require research involving children. However, parents might sometimes be hesitant about participation in research with their children, simply because they have never done it before. In this blog post, we want to show you that there is nothing to fear and share some tips for your next lab visit!

Don’t be nervous!
First of all, keep in mind that researchers are humans, too and it is very likely that they will be just as or even more nervous than you and your child are when you arrive for the testing session. Researchers have usually spent weeks or months preparing their experiments, but they can never be 100% sure that they have thought of everything unless they test it with their young participants. Thus, you can imagine that especially the first testing sessions are certainly nerve-racking for the researcher!

So, when you get to the lab, try to be relaxed as there is no need to try and impress anyone! When you feel safe and confident, your child will do, too.

Perfect timing
One aspect that makes life easier for all of us is the timing, so try to be on time for the testing sessions! Oftentimes, lab time slots are limited, and multiple testing sessions are not seldom scheduled after each other. Even if only a few people show up 10 minutes late, it can be difficult for researchers to test all the children they intended to.

Also, try to schedule the testing session at a time where your child is usually not too stressed. For example, try not to squeeze the testing session in between your child’s 8 hours of school and the afternoon swimming class. Sometimes, assessments can take some time and are thus mentally exhausting for your child, and then it is very likely that motivation decreases rapidly. We want it to be as relaxed and fun as possible for all of us!

Pepper us with questions!

In the beginning of a testing session, researchers usually explain the entire procedure to you and your child. However, please do not hesitate to ask questions if something remains unclear! We all benefit if your child feels safe and comfortable, and especially when unknown equipment (like an EEG cap or an eye tracker) is involved in the testing, it is even more important that your child is not frightened of something. Plus, visiting a lab is a perfect opportunity for your child to spark their interest in science, so we even encourage your child to be curious and ask questions!

Of course, you are also more than welcome to ask about the specific aims and objectives of the study your child is participating in, and researchers are more than happy to provide you with this information. However, we recommend asking about that at the end of the testing session, as explaining what specifically we are trying to investigate might influence your child’s behavior or responses, which we want to avoid.

Lisa Hintermeier, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

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