Intergenerational maltreatment and child emotion dysregulation

Jennifer M. Warmingham, Fred A. Rogosch, Dante Cicchetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Childhood maltreatment has been related to adverse outcomes on social, cognitive, and biological development with sequelae present throughout the lifespan. As such, caregivers maltreated in childhood may face a different set of challenges and interpersonal stressors in rearing their children. Parental history of maltreatment has the potential to increase the risk of parental depression and exposure to maltreatment in the next generation, both of which can have a negative effect on children's development.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study is to investigate maternal depression and child experiences of maltreatment as mediators of the relationship between mothers' own maltreatment experiences and child emotion dysregulation in children aged 10-12.

PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING: 378 low-income mothers and their children were recruited to participate in a research summer camp from 2004-2007.

METHOD: Mothers self-reported on their experiences of maltreatment in childhood and current depressive symptoms. Current generation child maltreatment information was coded from Child Protective Services records. Child emotion dysregulation (rated by camp counselors) was the outcome measure in this study. Structural equation modeling was employed to test associations between maternal maltreatment and child emotion dysregulation.

RESULTS: Maternal history of maltreatment related to both child maltreatment (β = .24, SE = .052, p < .001) and greater maternal depressive symptoms (β = .28, SE = .049, p < .001). Only child maltreatment mediated the effect of mothers' maltreatment on child emotion dysregulation (95 %CI: .005-.023).

CONCLUSIONS: In this low-income sample, the rate of intergenerational maltreatment is high and represents a pathway of influence that increases risk for maladaptive socioemotional child development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104377
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants received from the National Institute on Drug Abuse ( R01DA17741 ) and the Spunk Fund, Inc .

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants received from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01DA17741) and the Spunk Fund, Inc.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Childhood maltreatment
  • Emotion dysregulation
  • Intergenerational maltreatment
  • Maternal depression


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