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Parenting and child sleep: understanding the links between aspects of parents/parenting and child sleep

Project Description

Eligibility: Home UK/EU applicants who must be permanently resident in UK/EU
Interviews: 25 March 2019
Start date: September 2019
Value p.a.: Bursary equivalent to UKRI national minimum stipend plus fees (2018/19 bursary rate is £14,777)

Sleep difficulties are one the most common behaviour problems encountered by parents of young children. Behavioural management (i.e. teaching parents to use behavioural principles to help their child learn desired sleep behaviours and unlearn undesired sleep behaviours) is the first-line intervention approach offered by mainstream clinical services and has a strong evidence base (Meltzer, & Mindell, 2014) however it is not considered an acceptable approach by some families (Etherton, Blunden, & Hauck, 2016). Better understanding of parents’ concerns is important to facilitate the development of support that is both effective and considered appropriate by parents.

Attention to elements of parents’ cognitive style (e.g.Tikotzky & Sadeh, 2010) and parenting is also relevant to understanding how child sleep is construed and managed. For example, mothers vary greatly in their levels of mind-mindedness (i.e. a parent’s proclivity “to treat the infant as an individual with a mind rather than merely as a creature with needs that must be satisfied” (Meins, Fernyhough, Fradley & Tuckey, 2001, p. 638)) but this has been very little explored in relation to sleep.

A PhD in this area would aim to further understanding of the links between aspects of parents/parenting and child sleep. This could include how parental (mothers and/or fathers) mind-mindedness is linked to parents’ use of bedtime settling strategies with their child or their attitudes towards and use of various approaches to management of child sleep difficulties. The successful applicant will be expected to design, run and analyse data from experimental studies. There is an additional requirement to undertake up to 6 hours undergraduate teaching/week during semesters and to participate in a teaching skills course without further remuneration.

For further information contact Dr Luci Wiggs:

Funding Notes

Applicants should have (or be expecting) a first or upper second class honours degree from a Higher Education Institution in the UK or acceptable equivalent qualification in psychology or related cognate discipline (knowledge of research design and statistics is essential). EU Applicants must have a valid IELTS Academic test certificate (or equivalent) with an overall minimum score of 7.0 and no score below 6.0 issued in the last 2 years by an approved test centre.


How to apply:
Applications should be sent to [email protected] and should include an application form
( and a project proposal (max 2000 words) including background, aims and an outline of how those aims will be addressed. Applicants can liaise with Dr Dr Luci Wiggs when developing their proposal.

Completion of a DBS check is required on enrolment the cost of this will be covered by the University.

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