Mutual Relations Between Mothers' Depressive Symptoms and Hostile-Controlling Behavior and Young Children's Externalizing and Internalizing Behavior Problems

Jennifer F. Marchand, Ellen Hock, Keith Widaman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

52 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective. This study considered the role of mothers' depressive symptoms and hostile-controlling behavior in young children's externalizing and internalizing behavior problems. Pathways of influence between mothers' depressive symptoms and hostile-controlling behavior and children's externalizing and internalizing behavior problems also were examined. Design. Data were collected at child ages 4 and 6 years from a nonclinical, community sample of 51 mothers and their children. At both assessments, mothers' behavior was observed during a structured mother - child play activity, and mothers completed questionnaires to assess their depressive symptoms and children's externalizing and internalizing symptoms. Results. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed different patterns of findings across the 2 assessments as well as different patterns of findings for children's externalizing versus internalizing behaviors. At age 4, mothers' depressive symptoms and hostile-controlling behavior predicted children's externalizing behaviors; at age 6, only mothers' hostile-controlling behavior predicted children's externalizing behaviors. Regarding children's internalizing behaviors, mothers' depressive symptoms were significant predictors at child age 4; however, by age 6, mothers' depressive symptoms were no longer significant predictors. When longitudinal modeling was applied to the data, some support for both maternal and child effects was found. Conclusions. Findings highlight the importance of considering mothers' depressive symptoms and hostile-controlling behavior in predicting children's externalizing and internalizing behavior problems and suggest different etiological pathways for externalizing versus internalizing expressions of dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-353
Number of pages19
JournalParenting
Volume2
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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