Maternal mind-mindedness, parenting stress and Emotional Availability in mothers of pre-school aged children

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    Abstract

    Aims: Parenting stress reflects parents' conscious perceptions of their child as difficult, their relationship with their child as
    dysfunctional, and negative experiences in the parental role. A large body of research links parenting stress with less optimal parenting
    and child outcomes. We examined the extent to which individual differences in mothers' mentalistic representations of their preschool
    aged children (mind-mindedness) were related to parenting stress and observed parenting behavior Method: Participants were 86
    Australian mothers and their first-born preschoolers enrolled in a prospective study. Mind-mindedness was assessed through analysis
    of mothers' responses to an interview invitation to describe their children, coded according to the extent to which descriptions focused
    on children's mentalistic attributes. Parenting Stress was assessed with the Parenting Stress Index (PSI) and parenting behavior was
    assessed by coding a 20 minute free play interaction using the Emotional Availability (EA) Scales. Results: Factor analysis of the six
    EA scales yielded two factors: "EAPositive" (Maternal: Sensitivity, Structuring; Child: Responsiveness, Child Involving: 60%
    variance; "EANegative" (Maternal Non-Intrusiveness, Maternal Non-Hostility: 17% variance). Separate regression analyses
    controlling for maternal education confirmed that more negative parenting behavior (Lower scores for EANegative) was related to
    higher parenting stress and lower mind-mindedness, respectively. Parenting stress predicted EANegative: ß =-.40, t = -4.02, p = .000,
    R2 = 17%; but not EAPositive, ß = -.19, t = 1.61, p = .104, R2 = 3.3% and mind-mindedness predicted EANegative ß = .32, t = 3.11, p
    = .003, R2 = 11%; but not EAPositive s ß = .01, t = .601, p = .921, R2 = 0.2%. Structural Equation Modeling indicated that the
    relationship between mind-mindedness and negative parenting behavior was indirect, mediated by parenting stress. Discussion:
    Mothers who were more "mind-minded" (ascribed more thoughts, feelings intentions in descriptions of their child) reported lower
    parenting stress and engaged in fewer negative behaviors when interacting with their child. Further, the relation between mindmindedness
    and maternal behavior was indirect mediated through parenting stress. Key words: emotional availability, parenting stress,
    mind-mindedness.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberPW23
    Pages (from-to)73-73
    Number of pages1
    JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
    Volume31
    Issue number3 supplement
    Publication statusPublished - 2010
    Event12th world congress of World Association for Infant Mental Health: 12th world congress WAIMH - Leipzig, Germany
    Duration: 30 Jun 20103 Jul 2010

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