Mothers’ depressive symptoms, parenting, and child withdrawal : a dynamic view across early development



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Withdrawal in early childhood is a risk factor for the development of many adjustment problems. Mothers’ depressive symptoms may affect the development of withdrawal through complex mechanisms. This study examined the relation of mothers’ depressive symptoms to children’s withdrawal from 24 to 54 months and developmental mechanisms of this relation. Based on data from the NICHD study of Early Child Care, results demonstrate that mothers’ cumulative depressive symptoms from 6 to 24 months predicted children’s withdrawal at 24 months across dyads. From 24 to 54 months, within-dyad increases in mothers’ depressive symptoms predicted within-dyad increases in children’s withdrawal. Finally, low competent parenting was partially responsible for the impact of mothers’ early depressive symptoms on children’s withdrawal. In addition, boys’ withdrawal was more strongly associated with mothers’ depressive symptoms than girls’.