British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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Volume 9 Issue 3 (September 1991), Pages 365-444

Clearing up at 2.5 years (pages 365-376)

In a sample of 51 mothers and their 2.5‐year‐old children, indices of attachment and behavioural style were related to interactions while clearing up toys in a laboratory setting. Correlations between ratings of the child's security of attachment to mother and mother/child interactions showed that the more secure the child, the more mothers were constructively involved in free play and approached the clear up more enthusiastically using warmer tones. A lower proportion of their statements attempted to control the child, but more of those that did were positive. Children with higher security ratings tended to ignore mothers' control statements less and show fewer babyish actions on being asked to clear up. Between‐group comparisons involving secure, insecure avoidant and insecure ambivalent classifications of attachment produced significant differences between secure and insecure ambivalent groups which reflected the above correlations. No significant differences involved the frequency of compliance.

Those individual characteristics (Behavioral Style Questionnaire: McDevitt & Carey, 1978) most reflecting expression of feeling (i.e. intensity of reaction, negative mood, low threshold of responsiveness) correlated significantly with low compliance and other negative behaviour.

Significant sex differences occurred just before and over the first 30 seconds, but not over the first 3 minutes, of the clear up. Girls' mothers played more constructively beforehand and were more positive in their approach to clearing up, whereas boys' mothers were more negative in tone and were often ignored by their sons.

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