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Child Dev. 2009 May-Jun;80(3):762-75. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01296.x.

Differential effects of maternal sensitivity to infant distress and nondistress on social-emotional functioning.

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Department of Human Development and Family Studies, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, P. O. Box 26170, NC 27402-6170, USA.


Associations between maternal sensitivity to infant distress and nondistress and infant social-emotional adjustment were examined in a subset of dyads from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care (N = 376). Mothers reported on infant temperament at 1 and 6 months postpartum, and maternal sensitivity to distress and nondistress were observed at 6 months. Child behavior problems, social competence, and affect dysregulation were measured at 24 and 36 months. Maternal sensitivity to distress but not to nondistress was related to fewer behavioral problems and higher social competence. In addition, for temperamentally reactive infants, maternal sensitivity to distress was associated with less affect dysregulation. Sensitivity to nondistress only prevented affect dysregulation if sensitivity to distress was also high.

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