Mother-Child Interactional Style in Abuse, Neglect, and Control Groups: Naturalistic Observations in the Home.
Bousha, D. M. Twentyman, C. T.
Rochester Univ., N.Y. Dept. of Psychology.
Journal of Abnormal Psychology
Vol. 93 , 106-114
Publication Information: American Psychological Association, Washington, DC
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This study compared interactional patterns demonstrated by abusive and neglectful mothers and their children with those of a control group. The sample consisted of 12 mothers with a known history of child abuse, 12 mothers with a known history of child neglect, and 12 mothers with no known history of child abuse. Maltreating mothers were recruited from local day care and social service centers. Control mothers were matched on several demographic variables and recruited from the same day care centers. All mothers and their children were observed in their homes for 3 consecutive days for 90 minutes each day. Their interactions were described via a coding system called interactional language, modified to describe the patterns of nonverbal and verbal instruction, nonverbal and verbal affection, active physical aggression, verbal aggression, vocal negative, play behavior, noncompliance (child only), initiation, and social interaction. Analysis of the data revealed several differences between maltreating mothers and the control group. Dysfunctional mothers showed significantly fewer positive behaviors on verbal and nonverbal measures than the controls. The abusive mothers showed significantly higher rates of verbal and physical aggression, and the neglectful mothers the lowest overall rates of interaction. The paper discusses these findings in terms of current theories of child maltreatment and the treatment of dysfunctional families. 5 tables and 24 references. (Author abstract modified)
mother child relationships; neglecting parents; maternal abuse; comparative analysis