Maternal depressive symptoms predict negative child behaviors, including internalizing problems. However, protective factors, such as positive emotionality and positive parenting behaviors, may play an important a role in attenuating associations between maternal depressive symptoms and child behavior problems. This article presents two studies that examined buffers of links between maternal depressive symptoms and child internalizing problems. Each study examined samples of primarily African American families with young children in an impoverished large city in the Midwestern United States. Families were recruited from kindergarten classes and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) centers. In both studies, indicators of mothers’ positivity, as measured by text-based analysis of positive emotion word use or behavioral observation of positive parenting behaviors, attenuated links between maternal depressive symptoms and child internalizing problems. The results suggest that risk for internalizing problems within the context of maternal depressive symptoms is reduced when parents experience and express more positive emotions and behaviors.
Goodlett, Benjamin D.; Trentacosta, Christopher J.; McLear, Caitlin; Crespo, Laura; Wheeler, Rebecca; Williams, Alexis; Chaudhry, Kiren; and Smith-Darden, Joanne
"Maternal Depressive Symptoms and At-Risk Young Children’s Internalizing Problems: The Moderating Role of Mothers’ Positivity,"
Merrill-Palmer Quarterly: Vol. 63
, Article 7.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/mpq/vol63/iss1/7