Maternal emotional responsiveness and toddlers' social-emotional competence.J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1993 Jul; 34(5):715-28.JC
This study investigated, via extended naturalistic observation: (a) how mothers and children responded emotionally to each other's emotional displays; and (b) whether ratings of the child's social-emotional competence (made when the mother was absent) could be predicted by specific maternal responses to the child's emotions. Subjects were 28 mother-toddler pairs. Sequential analyses suggested that emotional dialogue does exist between mothers and children: certain emotional responses of mothers and children occurred more often than expected by their base rate during interaction. Maternal responsiveness to child sadness, anger, fear and neutrality predicted dimensions of children's social-emotional competence. Implications regarding the mother-child affective environment, socialization of emotion and social competency, and developmental methodology are discussed.