The influence of mother-child interactions on early manifestations of competence



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The issues studied were the identity of competent behaviors in two year old children and the aspects of maternal behaviors most facilitative of the competence of two year old children. Data were collected by videotaping standardized 20 minute interaction samples of 29 mother-child dyads. All interactions were coded into pairs of mother and child behaviors. General competence of the children was estimated by teacher and observer ratings, and the score from a block sorting task. The relative frequencies of the 12 child codes, for each subject, were correlated with the competence estimates. Results indicated that high rates of three behaviors were significantly related to competence indices: verbal initiatives, showing pride in achievement, and obedient responding. High, rates of four behaviors were significantly related to noncompetence: negative emotional displays, random or non-task responding, escaping or ignoring, and "tuning out" the mother's directions. A compound code for maternal behaviors permitted collection of data on the influence of five aspects of maternal interactions. For each aspect an analysis of the proportion of competent behaviors following different levels of maternal behavior indicated which maternal level facilitated competence and which inhibited the rate of competent behaviors. 1) Autonomy granting was found to be the most facilitating of competent behaviors, structuring somewhat less facilitating and interrupting or coercing most inhibiting of competence. 2) Maternal warmth or responsiveness was found to be the most facilitating of competence, neutral affect somewhat less facilitating, and unawareness, indicated by either preoccupation or irritation, the least facilitating. 3) The conceptual level of maternal language was found to have no effect on two year old competence responses. 4) Praise was the most facilitating form of feedback, while corrective information and structuring without feedback were least facilitating. 5) Cues that were clearly specific, either verbal or nonverbal, appeared to be more facilitating than vague cues.



Mother and child, Performance in children