Associations among mothers’ representations of their relationship with their toddlers, maternal parenting stress, and toddlers’ internalizing and externalizing behaviors

Efrat Sher-Censor*, Cory Shulman, Esther Cohen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examined the array of associations among the emotional valence and the coherence of mothers’ representations of their relationship with their toddlers, mothers’ reported parenting stress, and toddlers’ internalizing and externalizing behaviors. To evaluate maternal representations, 55 mothers were interviewed using the Five Minute Speech Sample procedure (FMSS; Magaña et al., 1986), which was coded for criticism and positive comments (Magaňa-Amato, 1993), as well as coherence (Sher-Censor & Yates, 2015). Mothers also completed the Parenting Stress Index − Short Form (PSI; Abidin, 1997) to evaluate their parenting stress and the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL/1.5–5; Achenbach & Rescorla, 2000) to assess their toddlers’ internalizing and externalizing behaviors. Results indicated that parenting stress was associated with maternal criticism and fewer positive comments in the FMSS, but not with the coherence of mothers’ FMSS. Parenting stress, criticism, and lower coherence in the FMSS were associated with maternal reports of externalizing behaviors. Only parenting stress and lower coherence in the FMSS were related to mothers’ reports of internalizing behaviors of the child. Thus, the emotional valence and the coherence of mothers’ representations of their relationship with their child and parenting stress may each constitute a distinct aspect of parenting and contribute to the understanding of individual differences in toddlers’ internalizing and externalizing behaviors. Implications for research and practice with families of toddlers are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)132-139
Number of pages8
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Volume50
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Inc.

Keywords

  • Coherence
  • Expressed emotion
  • Five minute speech sample
  • Parenting stress
  • Representations
  • Toddlers’ internalizing and externalizing behaviors

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