Attachment at Early School Age and Developmental Risk: Examining Family Contexts and Behavior Problems of Controlling–Caregiving, Controlling-Punitive, and Behaviorally Disorganized Children

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Abstract

Preschool to school-age trajectories of 242 children, including 37 with insecure-disorganized and 66 with insecure-organized attachment patterns, were examined. Child attachment and stressful life events (the latter retrospectively) were measured at ages 5–7, and mother-child interactive quality, parenting stress, marital satisfaction, and teacher-reported behavior problems were evaluated concurrently and 2 years earlier. Results indicated that all three disorganized subgroups had poorer mother-child interactive patterns and more difficult family climates than secure or insecure-organized children. The controlling-punitive group showed significant increases in maternal reports of child-related stress between preschool and school age. The controlling-caregiving group showed greater likelihood of loss of a close family member, and mothers of the insecure-other group reported lower marital satisfaction and greater likelihood of their own or a spouse's hospitalization. Controlling-punitive children had higher externalizing scores, and controlling-caregiving children higher internalizing scores, than secure children.

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