Theses Doctoral

Maternal Supportiveness of Infants at 1, 2, and 3 Years of Age in Low-Income Families: Associations With Maternal Characteristics, Child Characteristics, and Developmental Outcomes at 5 Years

Pressman, Aliza W.

This study investigated maternal supportiveness of infants at 1, 2, and 3 years of age in low-income families. Maternal supportiveness over time was categorized as stably low, stably medium, stably high, increasing, or decreasing. The study determined associations between supportiveness group and (a) maternal characteristics, (b) child characteristics, and (c) child-development outcomes at age 5 years. The child-development outcomes were cognitive and social-emotional outcomes as measured by the Leiter-R, Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Third Edition, Woodcock-Johnson® III Tests of Achievement, Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist Aggressive Behavior subtest, and various measures from the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey.

The study's data derived from the nationally representative Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project, in which maternal supportiveness was assessed by means of observations of mother-infant play interactions. The current study's sample consisted of 1,019 mother-infant dyads. Findings differed from those of previous studies that investigated higher income, less ethnically diverse samples. Maternal-supportiveness groups significantly differed with respect to the child characteristic of emotion regulation and the following maternal characteristics: ethnicity, level of education, marital status, parenting stress, and knowledge of infant development. They also significantly differed with regard to the following child outcomes: sustained attention, receptive language, preliteracy, math skills, prosocial skills, and aggression. Stably high supportiveness was associated with the best cognitive and social-emotional outcomes, and stably low supportiveness was associated with the worst outcomes. Timing of maternal supportiveness was less predictive of child outcomes than level of maternal supportiveness, suggesting that mothers may benefit from intervention to improve supportiveness at any point during their child's first 3 years.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Brooks-Gunn, Jeanne
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 6, 2011