Paquette D, Macario de Medeiros J, Bigras M, Bacro F, Couture S, Lemelin JP, Cyr C, Dubois-Comtois K. (2022). Father-Child and Mother–Child Relationships as Predictors of Injury-Risk Behaviors in Toddlers. Adversity and Resilience Science.
To date, few researchers have focused on the role that the parent–child relationship can play in children’s risk-taking, and none has done so while taking into account the father-child relationship. This paper examines two types of parent–child relationships, the attachment relationship and the activation relationship, both of which are theoretically connected to children’s exploration of their physical and social environment. The first objective of this study was to verify the prediction that the parent–child activation relationship in infancy as assessed with the risky situation procedure (RS) would be associated with toddlers’ risk-taking behaviors, and that parent–child attachment relationship as assessed with the strange situation procedure (SSP) would not. The second objective was to verify the prediction that the mean risk-taking scores of children in overactivated dyads would be significantly higher than those of children in activated and underactivated dyads. The third objective was to test the prediction that father-child overactivation would have a greater effect on children’s risk-taking than mother–child overactivation would, especially for boys. One hundred eighty-two father-child and mother–child dyads underwent the RS and the SSP between the ages of 12 and 18 months, and both parents filled out the Injury Behavior Checklist to assess risk-taking behaviors at 24–30 months old. As expected, the results show that parent–child attachment is not associated with risk-taking and confirm the positive association between both mother–child and father-child overactivation and children’s risk-taking. Only father-child overactivation significantly predicted child risk-taking when both father-child overactivation and mother–child overactivation were included in the same model. Finally, the higher the mother–child overactivation score, the more boys take risks that can lead to injury. This could mean that boys are more sensitive than girls to lack of maternal supervision, at least at this young age.