Longitudinal Influences of Maternal Sensitivity on Infant Temperamental Reactivity and Emotion Regulation

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kathryn J. Siepak (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Esther Leerkes

Abstract: Parenting has been identified as a key influence on children's temperament in the first years of life. This study examined the extent to which maternal sensitivity predicted infants' subsequent temperamental reactivity and adaptive emotion regulation and moderated the relationship between infants' early mother-oriented emotion regulation behavior and later adaptive emotion regulation. Mothers brought their infants to the laboratory when their infants were 6 and 16 months old to participate in 2 videotaped procedures at each time point which were designed to elicit negative emotions from infants (i.e., anger and fear). Mothers reported infant temperament at both time points. Researchers coded maternal behavior during periods of infant distress, infant negative reactivity and two types of adaptive emotion regulation behavior (i.e., mother-oriented and independent). There was modest stability in infant negative reactivity from 6 to 16 months but no evidence that maternal sensitivity to distress moderates this stability. Maternal sensitivity to distress moderated the relationship between reactivity at 6 months and the use of mother-oriented emotion regulation behavior at 16 months; however, there was no direct influence of maternal sensitivity on either type of adaptive emotion regulation behavior. Mother-initiated look-at-mother predicted the use of independent emotion regulation, but this association was not moderated by maternal sensitivity. In conclusion, different types of adaptive emotion regulation behavior appear to be influenced by different constellations of maternal and infant behavior.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2008
Influences, maternal sensitivity, infant, temperamental reactivity, emotion regulation, parenting, maternal behavior,
Emotions $x Psychological aspects $x Infancy.
Psychology, Developmental.
Mother and child $x Psychological aspects.

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