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The Role of Mother-Child Communication in the Development of Children’s Social Competence and Relationships in At-Risk Families: A Longitudinal Study across Two Generations

Title:

The Role of Mother-Child Communication in the Development of Children’s Social Competence and Relationships in At-Risk Families: A Longitudinal Study across Two Generations

Barrieau, Lindsey E (2014) The Role of Mother-Child Communication in the Development of Children’s Social Competence and Relationships in At-Risk Families: A Longitudinal Study across Two Generations. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

The two studies that make up the present dissertation were designed to investigate mother-child communication and its role in developing relationships and social development in an at-risk community sample. Specifically, it examined the associations between mother-child communication in childhood, and mothers’ childhood histories of risk (aggression and social withdrawal) and their offspring’s social competence, and peer relationships (friendship quality, bullying). Participants in Study 1 were mothers and their 5-12 year-old-children (n = 64); participants in Study 2 included mothers and their 9-13 year-old-children (n = 74). Both samples were drawn from the Concordia Longitudinal Risk Project: a prospective, intergenerational study of high-risk children from disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Boys and girls from the Concordia Project were rated on measures of aggression and social withdrawal in childhood and followed into parenthood to examine the influence of childhood behavior problems on both their parenting behaviour and on their offsprings’ development.
Observational measures were used to capture mother and child communication (theme, tone, function, and orientation) during videotaped conflict (Studies 1 and 2), and game-playing (Study 2) interaction contexts. Social competence (Studies 1 and 2), friendship (Study 1), and bullying (Study 2) were measured in children through the use of reliable and well-validated questionnaire measures.
Results revealed that mother-child communication themes, functions, tone, and orientation in childhood were predicted by maternal risk factors (i.e., education, childhood histories of aggression and withdrawal). Moreover, communication themes, functions, and tone in mother- child interactions predicted children’s social acceptance and psychosocial functioning (internalizing and externalizing behaviour problems) in childhood. Finally, communication tone in childhood predicted positive and negative features of friendships in young adulthood, while communication themes and functions predicted some measures of social competence and bullying behaviour in adolescence and young adulthood.
The results from the present dissertation make an important contribution to our understanding of mother-child communication in childhood and its association to relationship development in at-risk families. Associations between maternal histories of risk, and mother-child communication, as well as mother-child communication and social competence, friendship quality, and bullying were identified. Results have implications for the design of preventive interventions targeting social and emotional development in children from at-risk families and provide a better understanding of how to promote healthy relationships.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Barrieau, Lindsey E
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Psychology
Date:September 2014
Thesis Supervisor(s):Stack, Dale, M.
ID Code:979191
Deposited By: LINDSEY BARRIEAU
Deposited On:16 Jul 2015 15:37
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:48
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