Frick, M., Forslund.,T., & Brocki, K.C (2019) Does Child Verbal Ability Mediate the Relationship Between Maternal Sensitivity and Later Self-Regulation Scandinavian Journal of Pyschology

There is a need to further examine the mechanisms by which maternal sensitivity influences the development of child self-regulation. This study investigated the role of maternal sensitivity when infants were 10 months old and child verbal ability at 18 months, in relation to various aspects of self-regulation at 48 months, in a sample of 95 typically developing children (46.3% girls). In particular, the study examined, from a Vygotskian perspective, whether child verbal ability, as measured by receptive and expressive language, mediated the relationship between maternal sensitivity and hot and cold aspects of self-regulation in the child. As hypothesized, maternal sensitivity predicted child verbal ability, as well as working memory, set shifting, and delay of gratification. Child receptive language predicted set shifting, inhibition, and delay of gratification. In addition, receptive language mediated the relationship between maternal sensitivity and inhibition only. Additive effects of maternal sensitivity and child receptive language in relation to set shifting were found, and a main effect of maternal sensitivity on child delay of gratification. The results add to the body of research suggesting that responsive parenting and child verbal ability are important for the development of self-regulation, and suggest that different mechanisms may be at work for different aspects of self-regulation.