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An observational study of the mother's role in regulating child conflict

Pingault, JB; Blatier, C; (2013) An observational study of the mother's role in regulating child conflict. Devenir , 25 (2) pp. 93-116. 10.3917/dev.132.0093.

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Abstract

Children's agonistic behaviors (aggression and threat) towards their peers partly depend on their interactions with their own parents. Available theories often assume that parents have a leading role in this association : children reproduce or redirect towards their peers their parents' behaviors towards them. Sequential analysis of children's interactions with their peers and parents is crucial to verify these theories. Such a sequential analysis is hard to conduct because of the scarcity of places were one child can be observed with his parents and other children in the same place and at the same time. In the present study, we observed the interactions in a child care with the following characteristics : parents chose to come or not and had to stay with their children, so that parents and children were in the same place at the same time. This child care was close to a favela-like area in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and 22 children aged between 1 and 4 years were observed for more than 1 hour for a total of 104 hours. Mothers' controlling as well as agonistic behaviors towards their children were correlated to the children's beha viors towards their peers (respectively Kendall τ τ = +.27, p < .05. et τ = +.22, p = .08). Sequen-tial analysis revealed a behavioral logic in the use of grabbing (taking an object from one's partner), then threat, then aggression. Furthermore, mothers tended to mirror the behavior of their child : they utilized a control behavior or grabbing when their children had taken an object from other partners and utilized a control behavior or an agonistic behavior when their children did the same with other children. Therefore, sequential analysis indicated that children do not imitate their mothers' behavior but that mothers rather adapt to children's behaviors in order to regulate their interactions. Furthermore, the frequency of physical aggression towards peers tended to decrease with age (τ = -.36, p < .05) and, in particular, we observed a decrease of non-contextualized aggression. We discuss the theoretical and the prevention implications of this research. © Médecine & Hygiène.

Type: Article
Title: An observational study of the mother's role in regulating child conflict
DOI: 10.3917/dev.132.0093
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1491227
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