ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 7, Issue 1, 129-142, 2016
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Factors Influencing Maternal Behavioral Adaptability: Maternal Depressive Symptoms and Child Negative Affect

  Alexandra Hummel - Miami University
  Elizabeth Kiel - Miami University

Volume 7, Issue 1, 2016, Pages 129-142

In early childhood, parents play an important role in children’s socioemotional development. As such, parent training is a central component of many psychological interventions for young children (Reyno & McGrath, 2006). Maternal depressive symptoms have consistently been linked to maladaptive parenting behaviors (e.g., disengagement, intrusiveness), as well as to lower parent training efficacy in the context of child psychological intervention, suggesting that mothers with higher symptomatology may be less able to be adapt their behavior according to situational demands. The goal of the current study was to examine both maternal and child factors that may influence maternal behavioral adaptability. Ninety-one mothers and their toddlers (M = 23.93 months, 59% male) participated in a laboratory visit during which children engaged in a variety of novelty episodes designed to elicit individual differences in fear/withdrawal behaviors. Mothers also completed a questionnaire battery. Maternal behavioral adaptability was operationalized as the difference in scores for maternal involvement, comforting, and protective behavior between episodes in which mothers were instructed to refrain from interaction and those in which they were instructed to act naturally. Results indicated that when children displayed high levels of negative affect in the restricted episodes, mothers with higher levels of depressive symptoms were less able to adapt their involved behavior because they exhibited low rates of involvement across episodes regardless of instruction given. The current study serves as an intermediary step in understanding how maternal depressive symptoms may influence daily interactions with their children as well as treatment implementation and outcomes, and provides initial evidence that maternal internalizing symptoms may contribute to lower behavioral adaptability in the context of certain child behaviors due to consistent low involvement.

Table of Contents
 Parenting in Early Childhood
 Maternal Depressive Symptoms
 Child Negative Affect
Current Study
  Maternal depressive symptomatology.
  Child negative affect.
  Maternal behavioral adaptability.
 Data Reduction
 Preliminary Analyses
 Analysis Plan
 Moderation Analyses
 Post-Hoc Analyses
 Limitations and Future Directions

Correspondence to
Alexandra C. Hummel, Department of Psychology, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056,United States.

maternal depression; parenting; negative affect; toddlerhood; adaptability

Received 14 Nov 2014; Revised 26 Jun 2015; Accepted 4 Aug 2015; In Press 5 Feb 2016

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