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Esther M. Leerkes

My primary research focus centers around parent-child relations in infancy and early childhood. Within this area, I have pursued three primary themes: 1) identifying factors that contribute to sensitive maternal behavior, particularly in response to negative child emotions; 2) examining links between maternal sensitivity and subsequent child outcomes; 3) examining the impact of parenting a child with unique temperamental characteristics on adult development, well-being, and relationships during the transition to parenthood. A secondary research interest of mine involves methodological issues in the measurement of infant temperament, emotion regulation, and maternal sensitivity.

There are 27 included publications by Esther M. Leerkes :

TitleDateViewsBrief Description
African American and European American Mothers' Beliefs About Negative Emotions and Emotion Socialization Practices 2012 74 Objective . The authors examined mothers’ beliefs about their children's negative emotions and their emotion socialization practices. Design . A total of 65 African American and 137 European American mothers of 5-year-old children reported their beli...
Attachment to Parents, Social Anxiety, and Close Relationships of Female Students over the Transition to College 2010 117 The current study examined the process by which attachment to parents influences satisfaction with and ease in forming friendships at college. One hundred seventy-two female college freshmen completed a measure of parental attachment security the sum...
Developmental Dynamics of Emotion and Cognition Processes in Preschoolers 2012 7 Dynamic relations during the preschool years across processes of control and understanding in the domains of emotion and cognition were examined. Participants were 263 children (42% non-White) and their mothers who were seen first when the children w...
Developmental History of Care and Control, Depression and Anger: Correlates of Maternal Sensitivity in Toddlerhood 2009 48 This study examined maternal sensitivity in response to toddler distress in relation to mothers' childhood care and control experiences with parents, maternal depression, and maternal anger. Fifty-two mothers and infants participated. Mothers reporte...
Differential Effects of Maternal Sensitivity to Infant Distress and Nondistress on Social-Emotional Functioning 2009 194 Associations between maternal sensitivity to infant distress and nondistress and infant social-emotional adjustment were examined in a subset of dyads from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care (N = 376). Mothers reported on infant temperament at 1 and...
Differentiating Maternal Sensitivity to Infant Distress and Non-Distress 2012 45 Drawing from a domain specificity perspective, we assert that maternal sensitivity to infant distress cues is distinct from maternal sensitivity to non-distress cues. We review evidence from prior research demonstrating that the two constructs have m...
Differentiating Processes of Control and Understanding in the Early Development of Emotion and Cognition 2012 89 In this study, we examined the hypothesis that preschoolers' performance on emotion and cognitive tasks is organized into discrete processes of control and understanding within the domains of emotion and cognition. Additionally, we examined the relat...
The Infant Crying Questionnaire: Initial factor structure and validation 2012 65 The current project reports on an initial investigation into the factor structure of the Infant Crying Questionnaire (ICQ), a measure designed to assess parental beliefs about infant crying, in a sample of 259 primiparous mothers. Exploratory factor ...
Links between Family Social Status and Preschoolers' Persistence: The Role of Maternal Values and Quality of Parenting 2012 103 Children who develop persistence in the preschool years are likely to function more effectively during the transition into school. In this study of 231 3-year-old children and their mothers, we examined the relations among family social status, mater...
Links between Mothers’ and Fathers’ Perceptions of Infant Temperament and Coparenting 2010 164 This study examined the contributions of infant temperament, marital functioning, and the division of parenting on the quality of the coparenting relationship for couples parenting 6-month-old infants. Marital functioning was assessed prenatally. Whe...
Links Between Mothers’ Coping Styles, Toddler Reactivity, and Sensitivity to Toddler's Negative Emotions 2012 76 The extent to which engaged maternal coping styles moderate the association between toddler's temperamental reactivity and mothers’ sensitivity to children's negative emotions was examined in 89 mother–child dyads. Primiparous mothers completed a mea...
Links Between Remembered Childhood Emotion Socialization and Adult Adjustment Similarities and Differences Between European American and African American Women 2013 232 The purpose of this article was to examine whether recollections of mothers’ emotion socialization practices during childhood are linked to adult emotional well-being as indexed by depression, trait anger, and cardiac vagal tone, and whether these ef...
Longitudinal Associations Between Children's Understanding of Emotions and Theory of Mind 2011 79 Theory of mind competence and knowledge of emotions were studied longitudinally in a sample of preschoolers aged 3 (n=263) and 4 (n=244) years. Children were assessed using standard measures of theory of mind and emotion knowledge. Three competing hy...
Marital Aggression Predicts Infant Orienting Toward Mother at Six Months 2011 44 Links between marital aggression and infant orienting toward mother in fearful and frustrating contexts were examined in 92 mother–infant dyads when infants were six months. Results demonstrated that marital aggression was linked with less orienting ...
Maternal Expressive Style and Children's Emotional Development 2012 36 Maternal expressive styles, based on a combination of positive and negative expressive patterns, were identified at two points in time and related to multiple aspects of preschool children's emotional development. Mother–child pairs from 260 families...
Maternal sensitivity during distressing tasks: A unique predictor of attachment security 2011 40 The extent to which maternal sensitivity during a non-arousing free play task and during distressing tasks at 6 months predicted infant–mother attachment security was examined. When considered simultaneously, only maternal sensitivity during distress...
Moderate Vagal Withdrawal in 3.5-Year-Old Children is Associated with Optimal Performance on Executive Function Tasks 2010 197 Vagal tone (measured via respiratory sinus arrhythmia, RSA) and vagal withdrawal (measured by decreases in RSA) have been identified as physiological measures of self-regulation, but little is known how they may relate to the regulation of cognitive ...
Mothers' Emotional Reactions to Crying Pose Risk for Subsequent Attachment Insecurity 2011 45 Links between maternal emotional reactions to crying (anger and anxiety) and infant attachment security were examined in 119 mother-infant dyads. Mothers rated the intensity of their emotional responses to videotapes of crying infants prenatally. Mat...
Nonstandard Maternal Work Schedules During Infancy: Implications for Children's Early Behavior Problems 2009 47 This paper examines the associations between maternal nonstandard work schedules during infancy and children's early behavior problems, and the extent to which infant temperament may moderate these associations. Hypothesized associations were tested ...
Nonstandard Work Schedules and Developmentally Generative Parenting Practices: An Application of Propensity Score Techniques 2011 43 Data from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care (Phase I) and propensity score techniques were used to determine whether working full time in a nonstandard schedule job during the child's first year p...
Origins of Mothers’ and Fathers’ Beliefs about Infant Crying 2010 155 Origins of mothers’ and fathers’ beliefs about infant crying were examined in 87 couples. Parents completed measures of emotion minimization in the family of origin, depressive symptoms, empathy, trait anger, and coping styles prenatally. At 6 months...
Predictors of Maternal Sensitivity to Infant Distress 2010 127 Objective- The present study was designed to examine the extent to which mothers’ emotional (i.e., empathy, negative emotions) and cognitive (i.e., accurate detection of distress, goals about infant crying, and emotion efficacy) responses to infant d...
Preschool-aged children's understanding of gratitude: Relations with emotion and mental state knowledge 2012 127 Developmental precursors to children's early understanding of gratitude were examined. A diverse group of 263 children was tested for emotion and mental state knowledge at ages 3 and 4, and their understanding of gratitude was measured at age 5. Chil...
The relation of maternal emotional and cognitive support during problem solving to pre-academic skills in preschoolers 2012 81 Using a sample of 263 mother–child dyads, we examined the extent to which maternal emotional and cognitive support during a joint problem-solving task when children were 3-years-old predicted children's academic skills 1 year later independent of eac...
The Reliability and Validity of the Infant Behavior Questionnaire-Revised 2008 176 The reliability and validity of the Infant Behavior Questionnaire-Revised was examined in a sample of 6-month-old infants and their parents. One hundred and fifteen mothers and 79 fathers completed the IBQ-R and a measure of depression and 98 infants...
The Role of Persistence at Preschool Age in Academic Skills at Kindergarten 2013 130 The current study examined the role of preschoolers’ motivation, operationalized as persistence, in the formation of language and math skills at kindergarten. The participants were 263 children from diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. Demo...
Shyness and Vocabulary: the Roles of Executive Functioning and Home Environmental Stimulation 2011 70 Although shyness has often been found to be negatively related to vocabulary, few studies have examined the processes that produce or modify this relation. The present study examined executive functioning skills and home environmental stimulation as ...