Maternal and Child Characteristics Associated With Mother–Child Interaction in One‐Year‐Olds

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Maternal behaviors during early childhood are critical to child development and relationships between children and their mother and others (Barnard, 2010; Lamb & Lewis, 2011). Sensitive mothers prepare the way for secure relationships so children can explore and learn (Bornstein & Tamis‐LeMonda, 2010). Mothers’ behaviors such as contingent responding to their children are particularly predictive of child cognitive and verbal development (Bloom, 1999; Goldstein, Schwade, & Bornstein, 2009). Supportive maternal behavior can also provide children with buffering protection against stress. In the absence of supportive relationships, young children may experience physiological disruptions in the developing brain and other organs and systems (Shonkoff et al., 2012), leading to later problems with learning, behavior, and health (Felitti et al., 1998).
As parents interact with their young children, they engage in combinations of nurturant, social, didactic, and material caregiving behaviors. Nurturant caregiving meets the young child's biological, physical, and health needs. Social caregiving engages the child and helps the child regulate emotions and affect and manage social relationships. Didactic caregiving focuses the child's attention on objects or events in the immediate environment, interprets the external world, and provides learning opportunities. Material caregiving depends on available resources that allow the parent to provide and organize the child's physical world (Bornstein, 1989, 2006a). These behaviors vary during mother‐child interactions, and the origins of these variations are complex (Bornstein, 2006b).
Maternal age (Rafferty, Griffin, & Lodise, 2011); education (Carr & Pike, 2012); intelligence (Bornstein & Tamis‐LeMonda, 2010); mental health, specifically depression (Gross, Conrad, Fogg, Willis, & Garvey, 1993; Murray, Cooper, & Hipwell, 2003); race (Banerjee & Tamis‐Lemonda, 2007; Huang, O'Brien Caughy, Genevro, & Miller, 2005); social support (Green, Furrer, & McAllister, 2007); socioeconomic status (Schiffman, Omar, & McKelvey, 2003); stress related to parenting (Abidin, 1995); and traumatic life events (Parfitt, Pike, & Ayers, 2013) contribute to variations in caregiving behaviors. Child characteristics such as prematurity (Als, 2010), developmental delay (Iverson, Longobardi, Spampinato, & Cristina Caselli, 2006), chronic illness (Goldberg, Washington, Morris, Fischer‐Fay, & Simmons, 1990), and temperament (Kivijarvi, Raiha, Kaljonen, Tamminen, & Piha, 2005) also contribute to variations in behaviors during mother–child interactions.
Maternal and child behavior are a joint function of person, environment, and child development (Bronfenbrenner, 2005b). The purpose of the present analysis was to examine the associations between NCATS scores and characteristics of mothers and 1‐year‐olds enrolled in a community‐based longitudinal study.
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