Immediate and Sustained Effects of Maternal Mediating Behaviors on Young Children

Pnina S. Klein, Sari Alony

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    52 Scopus citations


    Sixty-eight low-SES Israeli women and their 4-year-old children participated in a follow-up study of the impact of training mothers to optimize their infants’ development through theory-driven mediational strategies. Mother-and-infant pairs were randomly divided into two groups, an experimental group (n = 48) and a control group (n = 20). The experimental-group mothers had been instructed to improve the quality of their mediation through an increase in frequency of the following five basic variables assessed as criteria of quality of maternal mediation: (a) focusing (intentional focusing of attention), (b) affecting (expression of affect and excitement), (c) expanding (explaining or associating with experiences beyond the immediate context), (d) encouraging (praising or encouraging), and (e) regulating (controlling actions in form, time, and space or planning and sequencing). The control group was given information on milestones in early development and on the favorable conditions for it. The effects of these interventions on the mothers and children were assessed 1 and 3 years following the intervention. An increase in maternal mediation behaviors following the intervention was found in the experimental group and remained significant at the 3-year follow-up; children in the experimental group spontaneously named more things, expressed more excitement, asked more questions, and showed more rewarding behavior towards their mothers. These children had higher scores on the PPVT, and scored higher on verbal abstract reasoning tasks than did the control group children. Maternal mediation behaviors were found to be significantly related to specific children's behaviors and cognitive outcome measures.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)177-193
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Early Intervention
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Apr 1993


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