Authors: Girard LC, Doyle O, Tremblay RE
Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2017 Apr;26(4):497-507
Studies support cognitive and social domains of development as entwined in childhood, however, there is a paucity of investigation into the nature of the mother-child relationship within an interdependence framework. Furthermore, the focus on these processes within families from impoverished communities using frequent assessments in early childhood has been limited. Our objectives were to identify (1) the directional associations between toddler's communication ability and social competence, (2) to establish whether the association between toddler's communication ability and social competence is mediated by maternal warmth, and (3) to establish support for transactional models between toddlers' outcomes and maternal warmth in disadvantaged communities in Ireland. Participants included 173 toddlers and their families enrolled in a prenatally commencing prevention programme. Toddler's communication and social competence were assessed at 12, 18, 24 and 36Â months and maternal warmth at 6 and 24Â months. Cross-lagged models were estimated examining multiple paths of associations simultaneously. Direct and indirect paths of maternal warmth were also examined. Bi-directional associations were found between communication ability and social competence from 12 to 24Â months but not thereafter. Maternal warmth did not significantly mediate these associations, however, support of a transactional model was found with social competence. The results support early positive associations between better communication ability and social competence in the first 2Â years, however, they suggest that these associations are no longer present by the third year. The role of maternal warmth in fostering social competencies is important for toddlers and equally important is toddler's level of social competence in eliciting increased maternal warmth.