Caring Behavior in Children of Clinically Depressed and Well Mothers

M. Radke-Yarrow, C. Zahn-Waxler, D. T. Richardson, A. Susman, P. Martinez

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Abstract

Young children's sensitivity and responsiveness to mothers' needs were investigated under conditions of high and low parenting risk (depressed and nondepressed mothers, SADS‐L). Child characteristics of gender, affect, and impulse control problems and the mother‐child attachment relationship were examined as they related to children's caring actions. Children's caring behavior was observed in an experimental situation in which their mothers simulated sadness and in a naturalistic setting. Attachment alone and child's problems alone were not predictors, and maternal diagnosis alone was not a strong predictor. Girls were significantly more caring than boys. Severe maternal depression was necessary to bring out high levels of responding in boys. Highest frequencies of caring were from children with severely depressed mothers, problems of affect regulation, and secure attachment. The importance of recognizing interacting influences and diverse underlying processes in the development of children's caring behavior is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1405-1414
Number of pages10
JournalChild development
Volume65
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1994

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    Radke-Yarrow, M., Zahn-Waxler, C., Richardson, D. T., Susman, A., & Martinez, P. (1994). Caring Behavior in Children of Clinically Depressed and Well Mothers. Child development, 65(5), 1405-1414. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.1994.tb00825.x