Child Adjustment during Family Transition: Arrival of the Second-Born

Project Details


A normative, yet stressful transition affecting all family members is the arrival of a second child. The proposed study will investigate changes in firstborn behavior and mother-firstborn interaction across this transition, identifying risk and resilience factors. We focus on maternal mood and self-regulation (i.e., the ability to behave toward one’s children in a way that is usually thoughtful and deliberate), as these are at-risk on the arrival of a newborn mainly due to elevated levels of stress and sleep disturbance. Sleep deficits cause fatigue, and may increase depression and impair parental ability to reinterpretation of a child’s challenging behavior and the circumstances surrounding it, in a way that allows the parent to respond in a way that is most appropriate to the situation. In addition, we propose that firstborn temperament may moderate children’s behavioral reaction to the transition. In short, the proposed study will delineate normative changes in mother-child interaction and firstborn problem behavior across the transition. We propose a longitudinal study of 230 families from the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, through 2, 7 and 12 months after birth. Data collection will take place during home visits, during which mothers will be interviewed and complete questionnaires, children will be assessed and mother-child(ren) interactions will be filmed. A key product of the proposed research is the identification of risk factors for the persistent of problematic behavior; to distinguish between the normative disturbance seen upon the arrival of a sibling, and behavior indicative of more severe, long-term maladaptive adjustment.

Effective start/end date1/01/16 → …


  • United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF)


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