Relations Among Mothers' Expressivity, Children's Effortful Control, and Their Problem Behaviors: A Four-Year Longitudinal Study

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Abstract

Longitudinal relations between mothers' expressivity, children's effortful control, and their problem behaviors were examined when children (N = 181) were 6.5–10 years old (T2) and again 2 (T3) and 4 (T4) years later. Mothers reported on their expression of positive and negative dominant emotion. Mothers and teachers reported on children's effortful control and externalizing and internalizing problem behaviors. In structural equation models, variables exhibited consistency over time. Further, the relation between mothers' expressivity (positive minus negative dominant emotion) at T2 and children's externalizing problems at T4 was mediated by T3 effortful control. The same process of mediation was significant for teacher- but not mother-reported internalizing problems. The results provide one explanation for how emotion-related socializing behaviors influence children's problem behaviors.

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