Social skill in self-assertive strategies of toddlers with depressed and nondepressed mothers.J Genet Psychol. 2005 Mar; 166(1):94-116.JG
The authors examined the effects of maternal depression on the skillfulness of toddlers' self-assertive strategies in interactions with their mother and with a female examiner. The participants were 110 mothers and their 26-month-old toddlers. Of these mothers, 57 had experienced an episode of clinical depression sometime since their child's birth, and 53 had had no history of depression. Toddlers exposed to maternal depression demonstrated significantly less social skill in their self-assertive strategies and more defiance when interacting with their mothers than did toddlers who were never exposed to maternal depression. The chronicity and severity of toddlers' exposure to maternal depression did not account for more pronounced differences in toddlers' skill in self-assertion toward mothers; however, toddlers exposed to more chronic courses of depression demonstrated less skill in their self-assertion toward the examiner. Toddlers who were exposed to maternal depression with a comorbid anxiety disorder did not exhibit less skill in their self-assertion toward mothers than did toddlers in either the depression-only or nondepressed groups. These findings suggest that exposure to maternal depression may interfere with toddlers' development of socially competent self-assertion strategies and may pose risks for future problems in the mother-toddler relationship.