Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Carin L. Neitzel

Committee Members

Priscilla Blanton, Hillary N. Fouts


Developmental theorists usually agree that children’s peer relationships have their roots in family relationships and they have suggested different models of influence between these two major socializing spheres. However, most studies have not included the role that children may play during these social exchanges. The present study focuses on the relative importance of children’s levels of responsiveness and/or resistance during mother-child interactions and offers a novel framework of direct and indirect relations between mother interaction behaviors and children's social behaviors with peers. Findings indicated that children of more controlling mothers were likely to be more controlling and dominant in their relationships with peers. Similarly, the mother’s imposition was related to children dominant behavior with peers. The results also indicated that the child’s level of responsiveness toward mothers moderate the effects of mother’s cohesiveness in relation to the child’s prosocial behaviors with peers. Children with high level of responsiveness toward their mothers’ cohesiveness were more likely to display prosocial behaviors among peers. Similarly, the effect of mother’s autonomy support on children’s leadership was moderated by either the child’s responsiveness or resistance toward mothers. The findings of this study highlight the importance of synchrony in the relationship between the mother and the child and indicate a bidirectional nature of this relationship.

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