Objective. Although maternal internalizing symptoms and parenting dimensions have been linked to reports and perceptions of children's behavior, it remains relatively unknown whether these characteristics relate to expectations or the accuracy of expectations for toddlers' responses to novel situations. Design. A community sample of 117 mother-toddler dyads participated in a laboratory visit and questionnaire completion. At the laboratory, mothers were interviewed about their expectations for their toddlers' behaviors in a variety of novel tasks; toddlers then participated in these activities and trained coders scored their behaviors. Mothers completed questionnaires assessing demographics, depressive and worry symptoms, and parenting dimensions. Results. Mothers who reported more worry expected their toddlers to display more fearful behavior during the laboratory tasks, but worry did not moderate how accurately maternal expectations predicted toddlers' observed behavior. When also reporting a low level of authoritative-responsive parenting, maternal depressive symptoms moderated the association between maternal expectations and observed toddler behavior, such that, as depressive symptoms increased, maternal expectations related less strongly to toddler behavior. Conclusions. When mothers were asked about their expectations for their toddlers' behavior in the same novel situations from which experimenters observe this behavior, symptoms and parenting had minimal effect on the accuracy of mothers' expectations. When in the context of low authoritative-responsive parenting, however, depressive symptoms related to less accurate predictions of their toddlers' fearful behavior.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology