Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 35, Issue 5, pp 685-703

First online:

Early-occurring Maternal Depression and Maternal Negativity in Predicting Young Children’s Emotion Regulation and Socioemotional Difficulties

  • Angeline MaughanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School Email author 
  • , Dante CicchettiAffiliated withInstitute of Child Development, University of Minnesota
  • , Sheree L. TothAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical and Social Sciences, Mt. Hope Family Center, University of Rochester
  • , Fred A. RogoschAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical and Social Sciences, Mt. Hope Family Center, University of Rochester

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This longitudinal investigation examined the effects of maternal depression and concomitant negative parenting behaviors on children’s emotion regulation patterns and socioemotional functioning. One hundred fifty-one mothers and their children were assessed when children were approximately 1 1/2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-years of age. Ninety-three of the children had mothers with a history of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) that had occurred within the first 21 months of the child’s birth, and 58 of the children had mothers without any history of MDD. Early-occurring Initial maternal depression predicted children’s dysregulated emotion patterns at age 4 and decreased perceived competence ratings at age 5. Initial maternal depression also indirectly predicted decreased child social acceptance ratings at age 5 through its association with dysregulated emotion patterns. Furthermore, the relation between maternal depression and children’s decreased social acceptance was more pronounced in those offspring with a history of high versus low maternal negativity exposure. Findings increase understanding of the processes by which maternal depression confers risk on children’s socioemotional adjustment.


Early-occurring maternal depression Maternal negativity Emotion regulation Socioemotional functioning Mediating and moderating processes