Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 543–553 | Cite as

Maternal Mind-Mindedness and Children’s Behavioral Difficulties: Mitigating the Impact of Low Socioeconomic Status

  • Elizabeth Meins
  • Luna C. Muñoz Centifanti
  • Charles Fernyhough
  • Sarah Fishburn
Article

Abstract

Relations between mothers’ tendency to comment appropriately on their 8-month-olds’ internal states (mind-mindedness) and children’s behavioral difficulties (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire) at ages 44 and 61 months were investigated in a socially diverse sample (N = 171, 88 boys). Controlling for maternal depressive symptoms, perceived social support, sensitivity, child language ability, and child gender, maternal mind-mindedness was negatively related to children’s externalizing and internalizing behaviors specifically in low socioeconomic status (SES) families. Furthermore, behavioral difficulties at age 44 months mediated the relation between maternal mind-mindedness and behavioral difficulties at age 61 months, but only for low SES families. These findings are discussed with reference to possible ways in which mind-mindedness could inform interventions targeted at at-risk groups.

Keywords

Maternal mind-mindedness Low socioeconomic status Internalizing difficulties Externalizing difficulties Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire 

References

  1. Ainsworth, M. D. S., Bell, S. M., & Stayton, D. J. (1971). Individual differences in Strange Situation behavior of one year olds. In H. R. Schaffer (Ed.), The origins of human social relations (pp. 17–52). New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  2. Ainsworth, M. D. S., Bell, S. M., & Stayton, D. J. (1974). Infant–mother attachment and social development: Socialisation as a product of reciprocal responsiveness to signals. In M. P. M. Richards (Ed.), The introduction of the child into a social world (pp. 99–135). London: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Arnott, B., & Meins, E. (2007). Links between antenatal attachment representations, postnatal mind-mindedness, and infant attachment security: a preliminary study of mothers and fathers. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 71, 132–149.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beck, Ward, C., Mendelsohn, M., Mock, J., & Erbaugh, J. (1961). An inventory for measuring depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 4, 561–571.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boucher, J., & Lewis, V. (1997). Preschool Language Scale-3 (UK). The Psychological Corporation, Harcourt Brace & Company.Google Scholar
  6. Brophy-Herb, H. E., Stansbury, K., Bocknek, E., & Horodynski, M. A. (2012). Modeling maternal emotion-related socialization behaviors in a low-income sample: relations with toddlers’ self-regulation. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27, 352–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Calkins, S. D., Gill, K., & Williford, A. (1999). Externalizing problems in two-year-olds: implications for patterns of social behavior and peers’ responses to aggression. Early Education and Development, 10, 267–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Campbell, S. B. (1995). Behavior problems in preschool children: a review of recent research. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 36, 113–149.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crnic, K. A., Gaze, C., & Hoffman, C. (2005). Cumulative parenting stress across the preschool period: relations to maternal parenting and child behaviour at age 5. Infant and Child Development, 14, 117–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cunningham, C. E., & Boyle, M. H. (2002). Preschoolers at risk for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder: family, parenting, and behavioral correlates. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 30, 555–569.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. DuPaul, G. J., McGoey, K. E., Eckert, T. L., & VanBrackle, J. (2001). Preschool children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: impairments in behavioral, social, and school functioning. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 40, 508–515.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fanti, K. A., & Heinrich, C. C. (2010). Trajectories of pure and co-occurring internalizing and externalizing problems from age 2 to age 12: findings from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care. Developmental Psychology, 46, 1159–1175.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Foley, M. (2011). A comparison of family adversity and family dysfunction in families of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and families of children without ADHD. Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing, 16, 39–49.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fryers, T., Melzer, D., & Jenkins, R. (2003). Social inequalities and the common mental disorders: a systematic review of the evidence. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 38, 229–237.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Garner, P. W., & Dunsmore, J. C. (2011). Temperament and maternal discourse about internal states as predictors of toddler empathy- and aggression-related behavior. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 9, 81–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gilliom, M., & Shaw, D. S. (2004). Codevelopment of externalizing and internalizing problems in early childhood. Development and Psychopathology, 16, 313–333.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Goodman, R. (1997). The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire: a research note. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 38, 581–586.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Goodman, R., & Scott, S. (1999). Comparing the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and the Child Behavior Checklist: Is small beautiful? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 71, 17–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Goodman, A., & Goodman, R. (2009). Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire as a dimensional measure of child mental health. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 48, 400–403.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Goodman, R., Ford, T., Simmons, H., Gatward, R., & Meltzer, H. (2000). Using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) to screen for child psychiatric disorders in a community sample. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 177, 534–539.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Goodman, R., Ford, T., Corbin, T., & Meltzer, H. (2004). Using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) multi-informant algorithm to screen looked-after children for psychiatric disorders. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 13, 25–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hay, D. F., Mundy, L., Roberts, S., Carta, R., Waters, C. S., Perra, O., et al. (2011). Known risk factors for violence predict 12-month-old infants’ aggressiveness with peers. Psychological Science, 22, 1205–1211.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hay, D. F., Nash, A., Caplan, M., Ishikawa, F., & Vespo, J. E. (2011). The emergence of gender differences in physical aggression in the context of conflict between young peers. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 29, 158–175.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hemmi, M. H., Wolke, D., & Schneider, S. (2011). Associations between problems with crying, sleeping and/or feeding in infancy and long-term behavioral outcomes in childhood: a meta-analysis. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 96, 622–629.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Henderson, S., Duncan-Jones, P., McAuley, H., & Ritchie, K. (1978). The patient’s primary group. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 132, 74–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hollingshead, A. B. (1975). Four factor index of social status. New Haven: Author.Google Scholar
  27. Hurtig, T., Taanila, A., Ebeling, H., Miettunen, J., & Moilanen, I. (2005). Attention and behavioural problems of Finnish adolescents may be related to the family environment. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 14, 471–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hurtig, T., Ebeling, H., Taanila, A., Miettunen, J., Smalley, S., McGough, J., et al. (2007). ADHD and comorbid disorders in relation to family environment and symptom severity. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 16, 362–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ingoldsby, E. M., Shaw, D. S., & Garcia, M. M. (2001). Intrafamily conflict in relation to boys’ adjustment at school. Development and Psychopathology, 13, 35–52.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kamphaus, R. W., & Frick, P. J. (2002). Clinical assessment of children’s personality and behavior (2nd ed.). New York: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  31. Kerr, D. C. R., Lunkenheimer, E. S., & Olson, S. L. (2007). Assessment of child problem behaviors by multiple informants: a longitudinal study from preschool to school entry. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48, 967–975.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Laranjo, J., Bernier, A., & Meins, E. (2008). Associations between maternal mind-mindedness and infant attachment security: investigating the mediating role of maternal sensitivity. Infant Behavior & Development, 31, 688–695.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Laranjo, J., Bernier, A., Meins, E., & Carlson, S. M. (2010). Early manifestations of children’s theory of mind: the roles of maternal mind-mindedness and infant security of attachment. Infancy, 15, 300–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Little, R. J. A., & Rubin, D. B. (2002). Statistical analysis with missing data (2nd ed.). Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  35. Lorant, V., Deliege, D., Eaton, W., Robert, A., Philippot, P., & Ansseau, M. (2003). Socioeconomic inequalities in depression: a meta-analysis. American Journal of Epidemiology, 157, 98–112.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lundy, B. L. (2003). Father– and mother–infant face-to-face interactions: differences in mind-related comments and infant attachment? Infant Behavior & Development, 26, 200–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McMahon, C., & Meins, E. (2012). Mind-mindedness, parenting stress, and emotional availability in mothers of preschoolers. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27, 245–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Meins, E. (1997). Security of attachment and the social development of cognition. Hove: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  39. Meins, E. (1998). The effects of security of attachment and maternal attribution of meaning on children’s linguistic acquisitional style. Infant Behavior & Development, 21, 237–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Meins, E., & Fernyhough, C. (1999). Linguistic acquisitional style and mentalising development: the role of maternal mind-mindedness. Cognitive Development, 14, 363–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Meins, E., & Fernyhough, C. (2012). Mind-mindedness coding manual, Version 2.1. Unpublished manuscript. Durham University, Durham, UK.Google Scholar
  42. Meins, E., Fernyhough, C., Russell, J., & Clark-Carter, D. (1998). Security of attachment as a predictor of symbolic and mentalising abilities: a longitudinal study. Social Development, 7, 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Meins, E., Fernyhough, C., Fradley, E., & Tuckey, M. (2001). Rethinking maternal sensitivity: mothers’ comments on infants’ mental processes predict security of attachment at 12 months. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 42, 637–648.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Meins, E., Fernyhough, C., Wainwright, R., Das Gupta, M., Fradley, E., & Tuckey, M. (2002). Maternal mind-mindedness and attachment security as predictors of theory of mind understanding. Child Development, 73, 1715–1726.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Meins, E., Fernyhough, C., Wainwright, R., Clark-Carter, D., Das Gupta, M., Fradley, E., & Tuckey, M. (2003). Pathways to understanding mind: construct validity and predictive validity of maternal mind-mindedness. Child Development, 74, 1194–1211.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Meins, E., Fernyhough, C., Arnott, B., Leekam, S. R., & Turner, M. (2011). Mother- versus infant-centered correlates of maternal mind-mindedness in the first year of life. Infancy, 16, 137–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Meins, E., Fernyhough, C., de Rosnay, M., Arnott, B., Leekam, S. R., & Turner, M. (2012). Mind-mindedness as a multidimensional construct: appropriate and non-attuned mind-related comments independently predict infant–mother attachment in a socially diverse sample. Infancy, 17, 393–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Meins, E., Fernyhough, C., Arnott, B., Leekam, S. R., & de Rosnay, M. (2013). Mind-mindedness and theory of mind: mediating roles of language and perspectival symbolic play. Child Development. doi:10.1111/cdev.12061.
  49. Menting, B., van Lier, P. A. C., & Koot, H. M. (2011). Language skills, peer rejection, and the development of externalizing behavior from kindergarten to fourth grade. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 52, 72–79.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Moffit, T. E. (1993). Adolescence-limited and life-course-persistent antisocial behavior: a developmental taxonomy. Psychological Review, 100, 674–701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. (2011). Mplus 6.11. Los Angeles: Muthen & Muthen.Google Scholar
  52. Patterson, G. R. (1982). A social learning approach to family intervention: III. Coercive family process. Eugene: Castalia.Google Scholar
  53. Pawlby, S., Fernyhough, C., Meins, E., Pariante, C. M., Seneviratne, G., & Bentall, R. P. (2010). Mind-mindedness and maternal responsiveness in infant–mother interactions in mothers with severe mental illness. Psychological Medicine, 40, 1861–1869.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2008). Asymptotic and resampling strategies for assessing and comparing indirect effects in multiple mediator models. Behavior Research Methods, 40, 879–891.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Reynolds, C. R., & Kamphaus, R. R. (1992). Behavior assessment system for children: Manual. Circle Pines: American Guidance Service.Google Scholar
  56. Schafer, J. L., & Graham, J. W. (2002). Missing data: our view of the state of the art. Psychological Methods, 7, 147–177.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sobel, M. E. (1982). Asymptotic confidence intervals for indirect effects in structural equations models. In S. Leinhart (Ed.), Sociological methodology 1982 (pp. 290–312). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  58. Sobel, M. E. (1986). Some new results on indirect effects and their standard errors in covariance structure models. In N. Tuma (Ed.), Sociological methodology 1986 (pp. 159–186). Washington: American Sociological Association.Google Scholar
  59. Tucker-Drob, E. M. (2012). Preschools reduce early academic-achievement gaps: a longitudinal twin approach. Psychological Science, 23, 310–319.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. van Oort, F. V. A., van der Ende, J., Wadsworth, M. E., Verhulst, F. C., & Achenbach, T. M. (2011). Cross-national comparison of the link between socioeconomic status and emotional and behavioral problems in youths. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 46, 167–172.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Yates, T. M., Obradovic, & Egeland, B. (2010). Transactional relations across contextual strain, parenting quality, and early childhood regulation and adaptation in a high-risk sample. Development and Psychopathology, 22, 539–555.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth Meins
    • 1
  • Luna C. Muñoz Centifanti
    • 1
  • Charles Fernyhough
    • 1
  • Sarah Fishburn
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Wolfson Research InstituteDurham University, Science LaboratoriesDurhamUK

Personalised recommendations