Maternal Negative Affectivity And Child Internalizing Problems: Child Behavioral Inhibition As A Mediator
Early emerging internalizing problems such as depression, anxiety, and social withdrawal put children at great risk for developing mood disorders and substance abuse problems. The current study investigated both child behavioral inhibition (BI) and maternal negative affectivity (NA) as predictors of internalizing problems in a preschool sample, and a mediational process between maternal NA and internalizing problem was hypothesized and tested. One hundred families with two children aged between 2.5 and 5.5 participated the study. The study included an online survey section and a laboratory visit. A multi-method approach with both questionnaire and behavioral assessments was used to measure child BI. The results suggested that it is more likely to find significant results with parent-rated measures; however, these findings could be biased. High levels of child BI and greater maternal NA significantly predicted internalizing problems. BI and age also had an interaction effect on internalizing problems. Additionally, parent-rated BI was found to mediate the association between maternal NA and internalizing problems, and the mediational process was particularly significant for younger children. The developmental trajectory of internalizing problems was discussed, and future studies should focus on gathering longitudinal data and modeling additional family/individual factors as potential moderaters/mediators.