A Systematic Review of Parent-Child Synchrony: It’s More Than Skin Deep

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This manuscript provides a critical review of the literature on parent–child physiological synchrony—the matching of biological states between parents and children. All eligible studies found some evidence of physiological synchrony, though the magnitude and direction of synchrony varied according to methodological factors, including the physiological system examined (i.e., parasympathetic or sympathetic nervous system activity, adrenocortical functioning) and the statistical approach used (e.g., multilevel modeling, correlation). The review underscores the need to consider the context in which physiological synchrony occurs (e.g., family risk) to best understand its significance. Furthermore, the review delineates vital avenues for future research, including the need to assess synchrony across multiple physiological systems and the importance of documenting continuity/change in physiological synchrony across developmental periods. Such research is crucial for understanding how the parent–child relationship unfolds at a physiological level and, in turn, how this relationship can facilitate or hinder parent, child, and family adjustment.