Journal directory listing - Volume 31-41 (1986-1996) - Volume 35 (1990)

A Study of Maternal Beliefs in Relation to Children's Social Competence Author: Hui-Ling Pan (Department of Education, National Taiwan Normal University)


The major purpose of the present study was to explore the relationship of maternal beliefs about distancing as a communicational strategy with children's social competence. Secondly, this study examined how mother's beliefs about distancing might differ according to the type of childrearing situation (social vs. cognitive).
Sixty-nine children aged 45 to 82 months and their mothers were participants in the study. All of the participating families except one were Caucasian. The Com-munication Preference Questionnaire was employed to evaluate maternal beliefs related to distancing. Social problem solving, peer status, behavioral problems and social behavioral observations Were the four indicators used to tap children's social competence. Social problem solving was measured with a child's test. Peer status and behavioral problems were based on teacher ratings. Social behaviors were measured with 20 one-minute observations of each child.
With respect to the relationship between maternal beliefs and children's social competence, two sets of interactive effects were found. One was that of maternal beliefs and children's age on children's social problem solving; another was that of maternal beliefs and mother's education on children's positive behaviors. In the present study, mother's beliefs in distancing were conducive to social problem-solving ability in children of age 5 years or older but not in children under 5 years of age. Concerning the prediction of children's positive behavior, children with mothers who had education less than graduate school seemed to benefit from their mother's belief about distancing, but not the children with mothers of higher educa-tion (master's and above master's degree). In addition, maternal beliefs about distanc-ing in social situations were found to be negatively associated with children's parallel play. The more mothers preferred distancing strategies in social situations, the less parallel play behaviors their children exhibited. Concerning the relationship between the childrearing situation (social vs. cognition) and the mother's beliefs about dis-tancing, the results revealved that mother's endorsement of distancing was less in social than in cognitive situations.

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