About Us

Our research is directed and led by Cara Swit. Cara has extensive experience working with young children, their families, and educators. She obtained her PhD from Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia and joined the University of Canterbury, School of Health Sciences in 2016.

Broadly speaking, Cara’s research interest lies in using a triadic ‘family-teacher-child’ approach to study and understand young children’s social development and wellbeing. More specifically, she is interested in:

  • the influence of educators, parents/caregivers, and siblings on children’s use of social and non-social behaviours
  • the role of cognitive processes (e.g. normative beliefs, schemas, behavioural response, theory of mind) in explaining or justifying young children’s aggression
  • bullying in early childhood and the development of interventions that facilitate healthy social relationships in young children
  • parental and teacher burnout on caregiver’s capacity to nurture young children’s development

Room 314, Rehua Building,
University of Canterbury
Phone: +64 33 694 408
Email: cara.swit@canterbury.ac.nz



Elaine Yeo
Research Project Title: Social support for support givers: Does received social support moderate or mediate parenting and teaching styles to affect pre-schoolers’ behaviour?

Courtney Tierney
Research Project Title: Māori Teachers and Parents Perceptions of and Responses to Childhood Aggressive Behaviours

Hannah Samson
Research Project Title: Preschool-aged Children’s Beliefs and Responses to Hypothetical Aggressive Behaviours.

Leanne Eloff
Research Project Title: Behaviour Intervention Plans: Student Voice – Perspectives and Experiences

Shelley Paul
Research Project Title: Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) A Qualitative Study on the Daily Practice for Year 7-8 Students within a New Zealand Classroom Context

Melissa Lim – COMPLETED
Research Project Title: An Analysis of Parents’ and Educators’ Needs in Addressing Early Childhood Aggression

Malena Penney – COMPLETED
Research Project Title: The role of Parent Perception of Burden on Child Health Related Quality of Life: Examining Functioning among Children with Food Allergy

Gabrille Mulder – COMPLETED
Research Project Title: The Influence of Culture on Parenting Practices and Children’s Social Competence: A Multiple Case Study

Jade McDowall – COMPLETED
Research Project Title: Exploring the Experiences of New Zealand Mothers Raising Intellectually Gifted Children: Maternal Strains, Resources, and Coping Behaviours

Paige Lenton – COMPLETED
Research Project Title: The Effectiveness of a Group Theraplay and Sunshine Circles Intervention on Reducing Behavioural Difficulties Resulting from Early Complex Trauma

Paul Wilkinson – COMPLETE
Research Project Title: My go-to things don’t work anymore: Teacher perspectives on challenging behaviour and the CPS approach

Maria Dunn – PhD in progress
Research Project Title:

Kalie Evans – PhD in progress
Research Project Title: Stress, Coping and Substance Use Recovery: A mixed methods study

Deborah Saunders – PhD in progress
Research Project Title: Intergenerational Parenting Behaviour and Its Effects on Child Behaviour among Pacific Families in New Zealand: a cohort study