The impact of behavioural inhibition and attachment security on dyadic strategies for coping with children's social stress

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Davis, Michele

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University of Guelph

Abstract

Mother-child attachment security may moderate the stress response of behaviourally inhibited (BI) children to novel social stimuli. Inhibition characterizes some children's tendency to fear social novelty. The current study observed how children's level of BI and attachment security affected their dyadic coping strategies. Attachment in mother-child dyads was assessed when children were 2 years old, and inhibition and coping strategies were assessed at 3.5 years old during an age-appropriate 'Interesting-but-Scary ' task. A series of mother and child behaviourally anchored variables were utilized, with the aim of identifying the most common patterns of dyadic coping for the current sample. Following exploratory analyses yielding relevant coping profiles, repeated measures analysis of variance techniques were used to show a functional moderation hypothesis. For highly inhibited children, disorganized strategies were related to a maladaptive pattern of coping which did not work to minimize fear. For uninhibited children, however, caregiver-child attachment was unrelated to dyadic coping abilities.

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Keywords

mother-child attachment security, moderate, stress response, behaviourally inhibited children, social stimuli, dyadic coping strategies

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