Maternal prenatal conditional regard orientation and postnatal controlling behaviour as predictors of preschoolers’ helpless coping with failure: A prospective study

Avi Assor, Ortal Buhnick-Atzil, Liat Rabinovitz-Magen, Judith Auerbach, Yaniv Kanat-Maymon, Patricia Smiley, Anat Moed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Based on Self-Determination theory, we examined three hypotheses: (1) mothers’ achievement-oriented controlling behaviour towards their toddlers predicts children’s helpless coping with failure three years later, (2) mothers’ prenatal orientation to use conditional regard (CR) to promote children’s achievements predicts postnatal controlling behaviour, and (3) the effects of mothers’ prenatal CR-orientation and postnatal controlling behaviour emerge also after controlling for the effects of infants’ temperament disposition towards frustration-reactivity. A four-wave study assessed expectant mothers’ CR-orientation (n = 290), their 8-month-old infants’ frustration-reactivity (n = 184), mothers’ controlling behaviour with their 18-month olds (n = 201), and children’s helpless coping with unsolvable puzzles at 54–60 months (n = 200). No systematic attrition effects were detected. Results supported the hypotheses, and, in addition, suggested that prenatal CR-orientation has an indirect effect on preschoolers’ helplessness, via mothers’ postnatal controlling behaviour. The findings suggest that mothers’ achievement-oriented prenatal CR-orientation and postnatal controlling behaviour may be risk factors that can be addressed in early prevention programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)828-854
Number of pages27
JournalEuropean Journal of Developmental Psychology
Volume17
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020

Keywords

  • Conditional regard
  • frustration reactivity
  • helplessness
  • parental control
  • self-determination theory
  • temperament

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