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Effects of maternal mentalization-related parenting on toddlers' self-regulation

Little research has examined associations between multiple indicators of parental mentalization and children's regulatory capacities. This study aimed (1) to examine the validity of a latent mentalization-related parenting construct and (2) to examine the relationship between the mentalization-related parenting construct and toddler's self-regulation, controlling for maternal depression, emotion disapproving beliefs, warmth, cumulative demographic risk, and child's gender. Mentalization-related parenting behaviors (MRPBs) included maternal use of mental state words, use of emotion bridging (linking emotions and behaviors in child and others), and representational mind-mindedness. Self-regulation was indicated by toddlers' coping behaviors, effortful control, and delay of gratification. Data were collected for 95 mother-child dyads from low-income families at two time points and included observation of a book share task (Time 1), Early Head Start home visitor assessments of toddlers' coping behaviors (Time 2), parent ratings of toddlers' effortful control (Time 2), and direct assessment of toddlers' delay of gratification (Time 2). Results of confirmatory factor analyses provided evidence for latent mentalization-related parenting (Time 1) and self-regulation (Time 2) constructs. Structural equation models revealed that maternal mentalization-related parenting (Time 1) was related to toddlers' self-regulation 6 months later (Time 2). Maternal depression and emotion disapproving beliefs were negatively related to mentalization-related parenting. The study's findings suggest that toddlers' self-regulatory skills may be supported by maternal efforts to mentalize. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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