PARENTING AS ADAPTATION: CHANGES IN MATERNAL STRUCTURING ACROSS EARLY CHILDHOOD

Open Access
Author:
Daniels, Lisa
Graduate Program:
Psychology
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
None
Committee Members:
  • Dr Pamela M Cole, Thesis Advisor
  • Pamela Marie Cole, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • Self-regulation
  • Parenting
Abstract:
It has been proposed that competent parenting requires adaptation to children as they grow and develop (Teti & Huang, 2005). In line with the belief that parents play an important role in children’s development of self-regulation in the toddler and preschool years (Kopp, 1982), then, parenting should show longitudinal change during this period as parents adapt to their children’s changing skills. Maternal structuring behavior was examined longitudinally to determine patterns of growth in terms of its frequency, the targets of the structuring attempts, and the strategies used to structure. To examine maternal structuring changes as a form of adaptation, 119 mothers were observed interacting with their children during a wordless reading task at child age 18, 24, and 36 months. Alternative hypotheses about the direction of change in maternal structuring were tested using multi-level modeling; also hypotheses about changes in the different child skills that mothers targeted, and in the strategies mothers used to structure, were tested. Contrary to prediction, mothers structured at a high and stable rate over time, but as expected they showed significant patterns of change in their targeting of several child skills and structuring strategies. The most notable changes were an increase in mothers’ targeting of child attention redirection and a decrease in their use of physical movement to structure child self-regulation. The results provide preliminary evidence that parenting changes during early childhood in ways that are consistent with the view of parenting as adaptation.