Cyr C, Dubois-Comtois K, Pascuzzo K, Béliveau M-J, Moss E. (2014). Transmission of attachment at preschool-age: The mediating role of mother-child conversation styles. Journal of Child and Adolescent Behavior. 5(2): 1-13.
Objective: Parents initiate conversations with their preschoolers about everyday experiences in which they share thoughts, feelings, and intentions. The ability to efficiently treat attachment relevant-information and organize attachment behavior beyond infancy is likely to be scaffolded by the parent in the context of parent-child discourse. The objective of this study was to examine mother-child conversation styles as a function of child attachment and test the the role of mother-child conversation as a mediator in the transmission of attachment from mother to child. Methods: The sample included 111 dyads of mothers and their preschool children (3-5 years of age). Child attachment was assessed using the Preschool Attachment Coding System. Mothers’ attachment state of mind was coded using the Adult Attachment Projective. Mother-child conversation styles were assessed during a 10-minute snack time. Results: Analyses indicated a significant correspondence between maternal and child attachment classifications. Moreover, autonomous mothers and secure children were more inclined to integrate affective information during verbal exchanges, while dyads involved in insecure avoidant, ambivalent, or disorganized relationships were more inclined to minimize, exaggerate, or be overwhelmed with affective information. Finally, children’s ability to integrate affective information mediated the link between mother and child attachment security. Conclusion: Overall, results emphasize the importance of the quality of mother-child conversation for the development of internal working models of child attachment during the preschool period. In addition, results are also informative for the development of attachment-based intervention for parents and their preschoolers.