Infant and Child Development

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Volume 21 Issue 4 (July/August 2012), Pages i-ii, 325-441

Mothers' and Fathers' Parenting Quality and Toddlers' Interactive Behaviours in Dyadic and Triadic Family Contexts (pages 356-373)


Based on a family systems perspective, this research examined the role of parental gender and family play context in parent–toddler interactions and how behaviours of family members influence each other. Sixty‐seven mostly White, middle‐class families consisting of a mother, father and toddler were videotaped in three separate sessions: mother–child, father–child and both parents–child at a university laboratory setting. The results indicated that there were significant main effects of both parent gender (mother versus father) and context (dyadic versus triadic) on parents' positive and negative parenting and children's engagement and negativity toward parents. Higher levels of mutual engagement between mothers and toddlers were associated with lower levels of fathers' positive parenting and children's engagement with fathers, when moving from the dyadic to the triadic play context. However, fathers' mutual engagement with toddlers was not associated with mothers' parenting quality and child interactive behaviours with mothers. There were also interaction effects of parent gender and context on parents' negative parenting and children's engagement and negativity toward parents. This study adds unique insights to the differences and similarities of parent–child dyadic and triadic interactions during toddlerhood. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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