The Social Context of Preschooler Social Problem Solving: Associations with Mother Social Problem Solving and Number of Siblings

Open Access
Campos, Kristin Nichole
Graduate Program:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
May 17, 2010
Committee Members:
  • Dr Sandra Azar, Thesis Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Sandra T Azar, Thesis Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • siblings
  • intergenerational transmission
  • social problem solving
  • parenting
  • social cognition
  • child maltreatment
This thesis investigated how preschooler social problem solving skill is associated with maternal social problem solving skill and the number of siblings. Mothers and their preschool-aged children were examined in a normative, low-SES sample and a low-SES sample with a history of substantiated maternal perpetration of child maltreatment. The first hypothesis, that there would be a positive association between maternal and child social problem solving was not supported in the normative sample. In the perpetrator sample, however, there were significant positive associations between mother and child skill, which were affected by maternal IQ. The second and third hypotheses, that the number of siblings in the home would be positively associated with child skill even after the effect of maternal social problem solving is removed, received support in both samples. Though the number of siblings was associated with increased overall social problem solving skill in both samples, findings varied depending on the type of problem the child faced in the perpetrator sample, specifically the number of siblings was associated with mother-focused, but not peer-focused dilemmas. The fourth hypothesis, that the presence of siblings would decrease the direct association between mother and child skill was not supported. However, there was a significant interaction between one indicator of maternal social problem solving and the number of siblings in the perpetrator sample wherein the association between mother and child skill increased as the number of siblings in the home increased. Findings suggest that preschool-aged child problem solving is associated with family factors, including the number of siblings a child has. The study further indicates that effect of siblings may vary depending upon the level of familial risk.