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23-05-2017 | Uitgave 3/2018

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 3/2018

Disentangling Child-Specific and Family-Wide Processes Underlying Negative Mother-Child Transactions

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology > Uitgave 3/2018
André Plamondon, Dillon T. Browne, Sheri Madigan, Jennifer M. Jenkins
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The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s10802-017-0309-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


The current study examines the transactional processes between maternal negativity and child disruptive behavior during early childhood, using a sibling comparison design. This design allows for a more sophisticated test of the behavioral training hypothesis than is possible when only one child per family is included in the analysis as it excludes two confounders (passive gene-environment correlation and family-wide environmental influence). Three hundred and ninety-seven families were visited on three occasions when the target child was 1.5, 3 and 4.5 years old (920 children, 51.5% female). The target child and up to three older siblings per family were included in data collection and analysis. Mothers and fathers reported on children’s disruptive behavior and mothers reported on their negativity to children. Within-family cross-lag pathways, as well as a significant indirect effect through which children increased their own disruptive behavior via maternal negativity confirmed a behavioral training effect. Family level maternal negativity and sibling disruptive behavior showed high levels of stability over three to four years and no context effect for maternal negativity or sibling disruptive behavior was seen. The theoretical and clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

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