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01-09-2015 | Original Paper | Uitgave 9/2015

Journal of Child and Family Studies 9/2015

Inverse Correlation of Parental Oxytocin Levels with Autonomy Support in Toddlers

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 9/2015
Ayano Miura, Takeo Fujiwara, Maiko Osawa, Tokie Anme


Oxytocin (OT) has a positive effect on the amount of affectionate and stimulatory involvement parents have with their infants. However, the association between OT and parenting toddlers is unclear in relation to a parenting approach that aims to develop and support child autonomy. Thus, we hypothesized that parental OT might be inversely correlated with parenting that supports autonomy in toddlers. We recruited a convenience sample of 50 women (age range 24–44) and 30 men (age range 31–42) in Japan via community sampling and obtained urine samples to measure OT levels. The Interaction Rating Scale, which evaluates the social competence of children and the parenting skills of caregivers, including autonomy support, was used. Multiple regression analysis that adjusted for covariates (age, number of children, self-rated health, and education) was performed to evaluate the association between OT and parent–toddler interactions. Maternal OT levels were inversely correlated with children’s empathy and mothers’ respect for autonomy and responsiveness development (p < 0.05). No association between paternal OT levels and father–toddler interactions was found. Maternal OT level is inversely associated with autonomy support for toddlers, but the same is not true for fathers. Further investigation is necessary to determine the causality between OT levels and children’s social competence as well as parental behaviors towards toddlers.

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