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Developing Autonomy and Social Competence from Preschool to Middle Childhood in a High-Risk Sample of Children: Links to Mutuality and Maternal Childhood Histories of Risk

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Developing Autonomy and Social Competence from Preschool to Middle Childhood in a High-Risk Sample of Children: Links to Mutuality and Maternal Childhood Histories of Risk

Grunzeweig, Naomi (2011) Developing Autonomy and Social Competence from Preschool to Middle Childhood in a High-Risk Sample of Children: Links to Mutuality and Maternal Childhood Histories of Risk. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Learning to be autonomous while maintaining close relationships with others is a fundamental task toward developing social competence. This challenge is particularly noteworthy during middle childhood, when parents begin to gradually relinquish control over their children, and children’s social networks expand to include the school environment. Preceding factors (e.g., mothers’ childhood histories, mother-child interactions at preschool) shed light on the processes underlying developing autonomy and social competence in mother-child interactions at middle-childhood. Investigating these processes is particularly relevant in high-risk families, where the likelihood of psychosocial problems is increased.
The present prospective, intergenerational study was designed to examine developing autonomy and social competence in a high-risk sample of mother-child dyads at middle childhood, as well as links to mother-child mutuality, mothers’ childhood histories of risk, and mother-child interactions and behaviour problems during preschool. Women from the Concordia Longitudinal Risk Project, whose levels of aggression and social withdrawal were assessed during childhood, participated with their children in a series of naturalistic interactions at two time points; observational coding measures were employed in order to investigate autonomy and mutuality in middle childhood (children aged 10-13), and maternal requests and child noncompliance in preschool (children aged 2-6). Questionnaires were administered to mothers, children, and teachers to assess children’s social competence and problems.
In line with the study’s hypotheses, results indicated that mutuality behaviours predicted autonomy behaviours. Mothers’ behaviours predicted children’s behaviours, for both autonomy and mutuality, suggesting an atmosphere of reciprocity within the dyad. Children’s behaviours at middle childhood predicted concurrent measures of social competence and problems, underscoring the relationship between autonomy, mutuality, and social competence. Children’s behaviour problems were stable across the two time points, and mothers’ request strategies at preschool predicted mothers’ autonomy support at middle childhood. Furthermore, effects of maternal risk (education, childhood aggression and withdrawal) and child sex were also revealed.
This study was the first to longitudinally investigate autonomy from preschool to middle childhood. Results highlight how autonomy behaviours in mother-child interactions relate to developing social competence at middle childhood in families at risk. Findings underscore the significance of middle childhood in determining children’s developmental trajectories, and have important implications for developing policies and programs that promote positive outcomes in vulnerable families.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Grunzeweig, Naomi
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Psychology
Date:2011
Thesis Supervisor(s):Stack, Dale M.
ID Code:7115
Deposited By:NAOMI GRUNZEWEIG
Deposited On:13 Jun 2011 11:04
Last Modified:28 Jun 2011 08:11

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