Maternal self-regulation, relationship adjustment, and home chaos: Contributions to infant negative emotionality

David J. Bridgett, Nicole M. Burt, Lauren M. Laake, Kate B. Oddi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


There has been increasing interest in the direct and indirect effects of parental self-regulation on children's outcomes. In the present investigation, the effects of maternal self-regulation, home chaos, and inter-parental relationship adjustment on broad and specific indicators of infant negative emotionality (NE) were examined. A sample of maternal caregivers and their 4-month-old infants (N=85) from a rural community participated. Results demonstrated that better maternal self-regulation was associated with lower infant NE broadly, as well as with lower infant sadness and distress to limitations/frustration and better falling reactivity (i.e., emotion regulation), specifically. Maternal self-regulation also predicted less chaotic home environments and better maternal inter-parental relationship adjustment. Findings also supported the indirect effects of maternal self-regulation on broad and specific indicators of infant NE through home chaos and maternal relationship adjustment. Some differential effects were also identified. Elevated home chaos appeared to specifically affect infant frustration/distress to limitations whereas maternal relationship adjustment affected broad infant NE, as well as several specific indicators of infant NE: frustration/distress to limitations, sadness, and falling reactivity. In conjunction with other recent investigations that have reported the effects of maternal self-regulation on parenting, the findings in the present investigation suggest that parental self-regulation may influence children's outcomes through several proximal environmental pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)534-547
Number of pages14
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported, in part, by R21HD072574 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD) . The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NICHD or the National Institutes of Health.


  • Chaos
  • Infancy
  • Inter-parental relationship adjustment
  • Negative affect
  • Negative emotionality
  • Self-regulation


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