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Longitudinal Study: LSAC
Title: A longitudinal analysis of relationships between children's early self-regulation, maternal mental health and behaviour problems
Authors: Walker, Sue 
Williams, Kate 
Berthelsen, Donna 
Nicholson, Jan M 
Publication Date: 4-Sep-2013
Keywords: self-regulation
mental health
Abstract: Children’s self-regulation skills develop through dynamic, transactional processes between parent and child. Data for 2880 children, participating in Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) are used in these analyses to explore the relationships between maternal mental health, children’s self-regulatory skills, and child behavioural outcomes at age 6-7 years. Longitudinal profiles of self-regulation are developed using three waves of data from LSAC, when children were aged under 1 year, 2-3 years, and 4-5 years. Parental reports of children’s sleep regulation, emotional reactivity, and cognitive persistence were used to construct developmental profiles of self-regulation. Child behavioral outcomes were measured by the Total Problems Scale of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) when children were 6-7 years (LSAC Wave 4 data). Three profiles of self-regulation emerged from longitudinal analyses. The normative profile (69%, n=1988) had consistently high scores on the self-regulation measures at each wave. The poor profile (27%, n=777) had consistently lower scores on all measures, with sleep regulation strongly influencing this profile across time. The very poor profile (4%, n=112) had significantly lower scores than the normative group on self-regulation measures across data waves; was generally lower than the poor group on self-regulation measures; and showed a steep decline in sleep regulation from birth to 5 years. In path models examining relationships between maternal mental health, self-regulation (birth to 5 years), and behavior problems (6-7 years), children with poor or very poor self-regulation were significantly more likely to have mothers with higher degrees of psychological distress, even when maternal history of depression was accounted for. Maternal mental health mediated the relationship between children’s early self-regulation and behavioral outcomes. Positive maternal mental health provided children with some protection from poorer outcomes, indicating the importance of early support for parenting of children with regulatory difficulties, as well as efforts to support parent wellbeing.
Conference: 16th European Conference on Developmental Psychology
Conference location: Lausanne, Switzerland
Keywords: Child Development -- Sleep; Child Development -- Behaviour; Health -- Mental
Research collection: Conference Presentations
Appears in Collections:Conference Presentations

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