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Keywords:

  • attachment;
  • compliance;
  • gender;
  • sensitivity;
  • toddlers

Abstract

Aim  We studied the effects of early mother–child relationship quality and child temperament on the development of child compliance and active resistance in a large population-based cohort study (n= 534).

Background  Parenting and the quality of the parent–child relationship can either hamper or support the development of child compliance directly or in interplay with child temperament.

Methods  Mother–infant dyads were observed at 14 and 36 months and maternal and child behaviours were independently coded. The quality of compliance was assessed at 36 months in a clean-up task. Child behaviour was coded using a system differentiating between two dimensions: Compliance and Active Resistance.

Results  Controlling for concurrent maternal sensitivity, child temperament, and gender children with a more insecure attachment relationship showed higher levels of active resistance during Clean-Up than more securely attached children. The effect was stronger for boys than for girls and mainly driven by attachment avoidance.

Conclusions  Early attachment is an important contributor to child socialization of moral behaviour.