Dubois-Comtois K, Moss E, Cyr C, Pascuzzo K. (2013). Behavior problems in middle childhood: The predictive role of maternal distress, child attachment, and mother-child interactions. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. 41: 1311-1324.
The objective of the study was to examine the longitudinal relation between early school-age measures of maternal psychosocial distress, quality of mother-child interactions, and child attachment behavior, and behavior problem profiles in middle childhood using a multi-informant design. Participants were 243 French-speaking mother-child dyads (122 girls) who were part of an ongoing longitudinal project. Maternal psychosocial distress was assessed when children were between 4 and 6 years of age. Mother-child interactive quality and attachment patterns were observed at age 6 during a laboratory visit. At age 8.5, externalizing and internalizing problems were assessed using mother and child reports. Results show that maternal psychosocial distress predicted later social adaptation reported by the child through the mediation of mother-child interactions. Analyses also revealed that higher maternal psychosocial distress and controlling attachment patterns, either of the punitive or caregiving type, significantly predicted membership in both child internalizing and externalizing clinical problem groups. Lower mother-child interactive quality, male gender, and child ambivalent attachment were also predictors of externalizing clinical problems.