Mothers' emotions as predictors of toddlers' autonomous behaviors

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Title: Mothers' emotions as predictors of toddlers' autonomous behaviors
Author: Bryan, Amy E.
Abstract: Autonomy is a critical component of early childhood with important implications for children’s competence and well -being (e .g . , Erikson , 1963 ; Mahler , Pine & Bergman , 1975 ; Sroufe & Rutter , 1984 ) . Although parental autonomy support is associated with the development of early autonomy (e .g . , Endsley , Hutcherson , Garner & Martin , 1979 ; Frodi , Bridges & Grolnick , 1985 ; Landry , Smith , Swank & Miller -Loncar , 2000 ) , the mechanisms underlying these associations are largely unexplored . Mothers’ emotions and the affective climate of parent -child interactions may be critical factors by which parenting influences early autonomy . This study (a ) examined the degree to which discrete , naturally occurring maternal emotions regulate four indicators of autonomy during toddlerhood : co -regulated goal -directed behavior , low aimlessness , self -assertion , and positive initiative , (b ) explored mechanisms through which maternal emotion exerts an influence on children’s autonomous behaviors , and (c ) isolated the contribution of mothers’ emotions to children’s autonomous behaviors over that of mothers’ autonomy -supportive behavior . Several important findings emerged . First , maternal emotions , both felt and expressed , were related to children’s autonomous behaviors - -mostly in ways predicted by emotion and relationship theories . In general , mothers’ frequent joy and infrequent anger , sadness , and fear predicted high autonomy . Second , the affective climate of mothers’ interactions with their toddlers predicted children’s autonomous behaviors over and above mothers’ autonomy -supportive behavior , suggesting that parental emotion is a unique aspect of autonomy support . Finally , different forms of early autonomy were predicted by different emotions in mothers , emphasizing the complexity of autonomy and the need to better define and measure this construct .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /2152 /ETD -UT -2010 -12 -2049
Date: 2011-01-26


Mothers' emotions as predictors of toddlers' autonomous behaviors. Doctoral dissertation, University of Texas at Austin. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /2152 /ETD -UT -2010 -12 -2049 .

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