Maternal support for autonomy

Relationships with persistence for children with Down syndrome and typically developing children

Linda Gilmore*, Monica Cuskelly, Anne Jobling, Alan Hayes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)


Maternal behaviors and child mastery behaviors were examined in 25 children with Down syndrome and 43 typically developing children matched for mental age (24-36 months). During a shared problem-solving task, there were no group differences in maternal directiveness or support for autonomy, and mothers in the two groups used similar verbal strategies when helping their child. There were also no group differences in child mastery behaviors, measured as persistence with two optimally challenging tasks. However, the two groups differed in the relationships of maternal style with child persistence. Children with Down syndrome whose mothers were more supportive of their autonomy in the shared task displayed greater persistence when working independently on a challenging puzzle, while children of highly directive mothers displayed lower levels of persistence. For typically developing children, persistence was unrelated to maternal style, suggesting that mother behaviors may have different causes or consequences in the two groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1023-1033
Number of pages11
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Directiveness
  • Down syndrome
  • Maternal style
  • Persistence
  • Support for autonomy
  • Verbal strategies

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