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Associations between early maternal behaviours and child language at 36 months in a cohort experiencing adversity

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Penny Levickis



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Wiley-Blackwell, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


© 2018 Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists Background: Variations in parenting, more specifically less responsive and more directive parenting, contribute to language difficulties for children experiencing adversity. Further investigation of associations between specific responsive and directive behaviours and child language is required to understand how behaviours shape language over time within different populations. As language is dyadic, further exploration of how mother–child interactions moderate associations is also important. Aims: To investigate associations between specific responsive and directive maternal behaviours, the quality of mother–child interaction (fluency and connectedness) and child language in a cohort experiencing adversity. Methods & Procedures: Pregnant women experiencing adversity were recruited from maternity hospitals in Australia. At 12 months, videos of mother–infant free play were collected. Videos were coded for maternal behaviours and fluency and connectedness (n = 249). At 36 months, child language was measured using a standardized language test. Linear regression models were used to examine associations and the moderating role of fluency and connectedness was explored. Outcomes & Results: Responsive yes/no questions were positively associated with language scores. Unsuccessful redirectives were negatively associated with language scores. The moderation effect of fluency and connectedness was equivocal in the current data. Conclusions & Implications: Findings reproduce and extend previous research highlighting key features of mother–child interactions associated with child language trajectories. Findings also augment knowledge of risk and protective factors related to language for children experiencing adversity and highlight where targeted interventions might be successful.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Smith J, Levickis P, Eadie T, Bretherton L, Conway L, Goldfeld S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders

Year: 2019

Volume: 54

Issue: 1

Pages: 110-122

Print publication date: 01/01/2019

Online publication date: 01/11/2018

Acceptance date: 01/10/2018

Date deposited: 23/11/2018

ISSN (print): 1368-2822

ISSN (electronic): 1460-6984

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell


DOI: 10.1111/1460-6984.12435


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