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Effects of mothers' simulated withdrawal and depressed affect on mother-toddler interactions

, : Effects of mothers' simulated withdrawal and depressed affect on mother-toddler interactions. Child Development 66(5): 1519-1528

Effects of enacted maternal withdrawal and depression were observed in a sample of 18-36-month-old children during counterbalanced brief (10-min) episodes of simulated depression and normal affect. As predicted, when mothers enacted withdrawal and depressed affect by becoming less positive, expressive, involved, talkative, and responsive, toddlers physically withdrew from them, made more negative physical bids for attention, and became more unfocused and generally negative. Children accepted their unresponsive mothers' infrequent interaction bids, but did not attempt to comfort them when they appeared depressed. In mothers' normal mood episodes, children were more positive, were never unfocused, and played closer to their mothers. As expected, toddlers reacted negatively to transitory maternal withdrawal and depressed affect, displaying their distress in a developmentally appropriate manner.


PMID: 7555227

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