Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://hdl.handle.net/10620/17956
Longitudinal Study: LSAC
Title: Transactional relationships among children’s emotional self-regulation and maternal mental health across early childhood
Authors: Nicholson, J 
Berthelsen, Donna 
Williams, Kate E 
Berthelsen, D 
Walker, S 
Walker, Sue 
Nicholson, Jan M 
Williams, Kate 
Issue Date: 28-Jul-2014
Keywords: self-regulation
emotional regulation
maternal mental health
Abstract: Background: The ability to self-regulate is critical to success and wellbeing across the lifespan. Children’s self-regulation skills develop through dynamic, transactional processes between parent and child and as such it is important to understand these paths of influence. There is substantial existing evidence for the influence of maternal mental health on children’s general development, but limited studies on the longitudinal relationships between children’s early self-regulatory capacity and maternal mental health. Whilst transactional models of development acknowledge the possibility of child-driven effects, most empirical studies investigate and find evidence only for mother-driven effects. Child-driven effects appear likely in view of recent evidence that children’s behaviour problems contribute to poorer maternal mental health. This study explores the extent to which problems with self-regulation in early childhood also contribute to poorer maternal mental health. Method: This study uses LSAC data for 2880 children from four waves of the Baby (B) Cohort (from 0-1 to 6-7 years) to investigate the longitudinal and reciprocal relationships between children’s emotional self-regulation skills and maternal mental health (Kessler 6). A series of structural equation models were constructed, first to examine the concurrent associations between children’s emotional self-regulation and maternal mental health in infancy, 2-3 years and 4-5 years, and then to explore mother- and child-driven effects across infancy to age 6-7 years. Models controlled where appropriate for prior levels of all variables and also for maternal history of prenatal depression. Results: Concurrent relationships were found as expected between poorer child emotional self-regulation skills and mothers poorer mental health. The longitudinal panel model provided evidence for both mother- and child-driven effects. At each wave, maternal mental health problems predicted lower levels of child self-regulation two years later and poorer regulation skills in children predicted poorer maternal mental two years later. Conclusions: These findings provide increased understanding of the intergenerational pathways through which children’s self-regulation develops and the bidirectional influences present in the early mother-child system. They suggest a mutual process of exacerbation whereby early self-regulation difficulties in children and mental health vulnerability in mothers interact and exacerbate problems over time. Interventions that result in either improving mental health for mothers or supporting the development of children’s emotional self-regulation are likely to be of benefit to both mothers and children.
metadata.dc.description.conferencename: International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development Conference
metadata.dc.description.conferencelocation: Shanghai, China
Keywords: Child Development; Families -- Mothers; Child Development -- Emotional; Health -- Mental
Research collection: Conference presentations
Appears in Collections:Conference Presentations

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