The Contribution of Maternal Synchrony and Maternal Sensitivity on Joint Attention and Behavior Regulation Skills_RN-1

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The Contribution of Maternal Synchrony and Maternal Sensitivity on Joint Attention and Behavior Regulation Skills_RN-1 Powered By Docstoc
					            The Contribution of Maternal Synchrony and Maternal Sensitivity
                            to Joint Attention Skills in Toddlers

Purpose: This is the first study to examine the association between maternal synchrony,

maternal sensitivity, and children’s joint attention together.

Background: Studies have separately explored the relationships between (1) maternal

synchrony and joint attention (e.g., Siller & Sigman, 2008) and (2) maternal sensitivity

and joint attention (e..g, Gaffan, Martins, Healy, & Murray, 2010). Furthermore,

researchers have theorized maternal sensitivity as either a necessary component or a

construct highly related to synchrony (e.g., Harrist & Waugh, 2002). Nonetheless, few

studies have quantified this association nor have they examined how maternal synchrony

and sensitivity may together influence joint attention skill development. In this study, we

hypothesized limited associations between global, qualitative maternal sensitivity scores

and specific, qualitative maternal synchrony scores. In addition, we expected each to

uniquely predict individual differences in joint attention skills.

Methods: Twenty toddlers (8 girls, 12 boys; Mage =32.71 months, SD=1.81) and their

mothers participated in a 15-minute unstructured play session and the Early Social

Communication Scales (ESCS; Mundy et al., 2003) administered by an experimenter.

The play session was coded for the Emotional Availability (EA) Scales (3rd Ed.;

Biringen, 2000), yielding: Maternal Sensitivity, Maternal Structuring, Maternal Non-

Intrusiveness, Maternal Non-Hostility and 2) synchrony (Siller & Sigman, 2002)

yielding: Maternal Indicating Behaviors with Child’s Attention (MS1), Maternal
Utterances with Child’s Attention (MS2), and Maternal Utterances with Child’s

Attention and Action (MS3). The ESCS was coded yielding: Initiating Joint Attention

(IJA), Responding to Joint Attention (RJA), Initiating Behavioral Requests (IBR),

and Responding to Behavioral Requests (RBR).

Results: Pairwise correlations between EA and synchrony scores revealed a significant

relationship between Maternal Structuring and MS1 only. No other aspect of maternal

EA and synchrony were significantly associated (See Table 1). Maternal Synchrony

scores were entered as predictors in the first step and EA scores were entered as

predictors in the second step within 4 step-wise linear regression models using each

ESCS score as a dependent variable. MS3 predicted 24% of the variance in IJA. MS1 and

Maternal Sensitivity jointly predicted 45% of the variance in RJA. In this case, higher

MS1 predicted lower RJA scores, while higher Maternal Sensitivity predicted higher RJA

scores (see Figure 1).

Discussion: These preliminary results suggest that maternal sensitivity and maternal

synchrony do not appear to be closely related and may be quantitatively distinct

constructs. Furthermore, children whose mothers’ vocalizations matched their

attention/action demonstrated higher IJA. Children whose mother’s pointing and showing

matched their attention demonstrated lower RJA, while children whose mothers were

more sensitive demonstrated higher RJA. These results suggest that some maternal

redirecting (unsynchronized pointing and showing) promotes children’s ability to follow

another’s line of regard particularly when unsynchronized behaviors are presented in the
context of sensitive parenting. Thus, synchronized maternal behavior may be important

for IJA development, while sensitive unsynchronized maternal behavior may be

important for RJA development. These results may have implications for promoting

adaptive communication-learning environments given that synchrony appears to be less

stable or trait-like relative to maternal sensitivity.

                          β = 19.12, p = .006                                       β = -106.62, p = .002
                          R2 Linear = .090                                          R2 Linear = .209

                         β = 58.49, p = .016
                         R2 Linear = .284

Figure 1. Relationships between Maternal Sensitivity and MS1 with RJA, and

relationship between MS3 and IJA.
Table 1.

Correlations Among Maternal Synchrony and EA Scores

                      Maternal Synchrony                             EA
                                                                          Maternal      Maternal
                                             Maternal      Maternal         Non-         Non-
                         MS2       MS3      Sensitivity   Structuring   Intrusiveness   Hostility

MS1                     -.454*     -.438       .420          .511*          .104          .134

MS2                                .964**     -.167         -.342          -.180          .121

MS3                                           -.072         -.248          -.071          .192

                                                             .937**         .679**       .714**

                                                                            .627**       .624**

*p < .05, **p < .01

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