Mothering. Mothering refers to a mother's style of interaction with her child. A mother's early interaction style has been related to a variety of outcomes, including the development of the mother-infant relationship, children's prosocial behavior, and later behavioral problems. Specifically, mothers who were highly responsive and available to their children were more likely to have infants who developed more harmonious relationships with their mothers. Further, when mothers were more sensitive, their children were more empathic, more compliant with adults, and less likely to develop behavior problems (Sroufe & Fleeson, 1988). Many researchers agree that infants' early interactions with their primary caregivers are foremost in determining the quality of the mother-infant relationship, or attachment bond. Sensitive mothering in the first year of life is thought to predict the quality of the mother-infant attachment. Mothers who are more sensitive and responsive in their interactions (i.e. mothers who notice infant signals and respond to them appropriately) will have infants who will eventually develop a more adaptive (secure) attachment relationship. On the other hand, mothers who are more insensitive, rejecting, underinvolved, or intrusive are more likely to have infants who develop an insecure bond. The mother-infant attachment relationship is thought to set the tone for all future relationships. Research has shown also that infants who develop a harmonious relationship with their mothers tend to be less dependent on their teachers, more competent with their peers, and more cooperative with adults as children (Sroufe & Fleeson, 1988). Mothering also has been linked with children's prosocial and antisocial behavior. Specifically, the way mothers attempt to control their children has been associated with children's compliance, impulse control (i.e., not touching a forbidden object), and self-assertion. Mothers' use of suggestions and reasoning has been linked to...
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