Maternal Interaction Patterns and Preschool Competence in High-Risk Children

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Abstract

Background:

The influence of specific maternal interaction patterns as compensatory mechanisms in promoting development of medically high-risk children has been understudied.

Objectives:

To investigate the association of three maternal interaction patterns, maternal responsivity, involvement, and control style, with preschool competency in a medically heterogeneous sample.

Method:

Children (N = 184) and their mothers participating in a prospective longitudinal study were assessed in a laboratory protocol and home visit. The methods of measurement were maternal self-report, global rating scales, interview, and nationally standardized instruments.

Results:

Evidence of a maternal compensatory mechanism was exhibited in mothers' higher involvement with their children who were born at high medical risk (F(1, 183) = 6.26, p = .01). Mothers of the most competent children demonstrated higher maternal responsivity, involvement, and more appropriate control than mothers of children who were not as competent. In hierarchical regression models, the three maternal interaction patterns were significant predictors after perinatal risk and maternal education were controlled explaining 29-37% of the variance in child competence scores.

Conclusion:

These findings imply that differential child outcomes are associated with specific maternal interaction patterns. It suggests that a combination of diverse information revealed in specific maternal interaction pattern is needed to predict cognitive, linguistic, and problem-solving competencies. Future research should consider individual differences in mother-child interaction patterns in order to isolate their significance for optimal child development.

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