Attachment security and parenting quality predict children's problem-solving, attributions, and loneliness with peers

H. Abigail Raikes, Ross A. Thompson
2008 Attachment & Human Development  
The influence of early relational experience on later social understanding has evoked rich theoretical discussion but relatively little empirical inquiry. Enlisting data from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, measures of the security of attachment in infancy, toddlerhood, and early childhood, together with measures of parenting quality (maternal sensitivity and depressive symptoms) gathered longitudinally throughout infancy and early childhood, were used to predict
more » ... rences in children's thoughts and feelings about peers (i.e., social problem solving, negative attributional biases, aggressive solutions to ambiguous social situations, and selfreported loneliness) when children were 54 months and in first grade. Relational experiences, especially before 36 months, were significantly predictive of later peerrelated representations. Attachment security at 24 and 36 months was associated with enhanced social problem-solving skills and less loneliness, but security of attachment at 15 months was nonpredictive. Early maternal sensitivity was positively associated with later social problem-solving and negatively with aggressive responses, and early maternal depressive symptoms were positively associated with children's negative attributions. Concurrent parenting quality was also associated with children's thoughts and feelings about peers, but less consistently. These findings shed new light on how early relational experiences may contribute to social information processing with peers at the end of the preschool years, and that the timing of relational influences may be crucial.
doi:10.1080/14616730802113620 pmid:18821341 fatcat:4kpvpc5wifc5bkg53ke3nmfkna