Associations between early maternal behaviours and child language at 36 months in a cohort experiencing adversity Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND:Variations in parenting, more specifically less responsive and more directive parenting, contribute to language difficulties for children experiencing adversity. Further investigation of associations between specific responsive and directive behaviours and child language is required to understand how behaviours shape language over time within different populations. As language is dyadic, further exploration of how mother-child interactions moderate associations is also important. AIMS:To investigate associations between specific responsive and directive maternal behaviours, the quality of mother-child interaction (fluency and connectedness) and child language in a cohort experiencing adversity. METHODS & PROCEDURES:Pregnant women experiencing adversity were recruited from maternity hospitals in Australia. At 12 months, videos of mother-infant free play were collected. Videos were coded for maternal behaviours and fluency and connectedness (n = 249). At 36 months, child language was measured using a standardized language test. Linear regression models were used to examine associations and the moderating role of fluency and connectedness was explored. OUTCOMES & RESULTS:Responsive yes/no questions were positively associated with language scores. Unsuccessful redirectives were negatively associated with language scores. The moderation effect of fluency and connectedness was equivocal in the current data. CONCLUSIONS & IMPLICATIONS:Findings reproduce and extend previous research highlighting key features of mother-child interactions associated with child language trajectories. Findings also augment knowledge of risk and protective factors related to language for children experiencing adversity and highlight where targeted interventions might be successful.

publication date

  • 2019