The relations among child negative interactive behavior, child temperament, and maternal behavior

Nora Szabo, Maja Dekovic, Chantal van Aken, Marjolein Verhoeven, Marcel A.G. van Aken, Marianne Junger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic

18 Citations (Scopus)


Negative behavior toward the mother during toddlerhood might be a marker of increased risk for maladjustment. The aim of the present study was to examine the possible antecedents of toddler boys’ negative behavior observed in interaction with the mother: child temperament, and maternal behavior toward the child. We studied the moderating and mediating role of two dimensions of maternal behavior, sensitivity and intrusiveness, in the relationship between children's temperamental traits (frustration, soothability and activity level), on the one hand, and child negative behavior, on the other hand. The sample consisted of 112 mother–son dyads observed when the child was 17 months old. A temperament questionnaire was completed by the mothers. Child negative interactive behavior, maternal sensitivity and intrusiveness were observed at home during a 13-min play session. Maternal sensitivity was negatively related to child negative interactive behavior regardless of child temperament. Maternal intrusiveness, however, moderated the relation between activity level and negative behavior, i.e., children with high activity level showed higher levels of negative behavior especially when the mother was highly intrusive. Furthermore, maternal intrusiveness acted as a mediator in the relation between soothability and negative behavior, i.e., low soothability was linked to higher maternal intrusiveness, which in turn was associated with higher negative behavior
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-377
Number of pages12
JournalEarly childhood research quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Child negative interactive behavior
  • Frustration
  • Soothability
  • Activity level
  • Maternal sensitivity
  • Maternal intrusiveness


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