Maternal Caregiving Moderates the Relation Between Temperamental Fear and Social Behavior with Peers

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should be sent to Elizabeth C. Penela, M.S., 5665 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Coral Gables, FL 33146. E-mail: epenela@miami.edu

Abstract

Temperament works in combination with a child’s environment to influence early socioemotional development. We examined whether maternal caregiving behavior at infant age 9 months moderated the relation between infant temperamental fear (9 months) and observations of children’s social behavior with an unfamiliar peer at age 2 in a typically developing sample of 155 children. When infants received lower quality maternal caregiving, temperamental fear was inversely related to observed social engagement and aggression. These relations were nonsignificant when infants received higher quality maternal caregiving. Findings indicate that variations in temperamental fear may predict individual differences in future peer interactions, but sensitive, nonintrusive caregiving behaviors can attenuate these associations.

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