245 – Maternal overcontrol and young children’s internalising problems in China: The roles of social competence and teacher-child conflict

Presentation - ECV2022-245

Maternal overcontrol and young children’s internalising problems in China: The roles of social competence and teacher-child conflict

Juanjuan Sun, Shanghai Normal University, China (sjj0256@163.com)
Yan Li, Shanghai Normal University, China (liyan@shnu.edu.cn)

Background: Parental overcontrol as an important dimension of parenting behaviour has been found to be associated with children’s internalising problems. However, most studies were conducted in western countries and there is a dearth of evidence on this relationship in the Chinese context. Moreover, little is known about the underlying mechanisms that might account for the links between parental overcontrol and preschoolers’ internalising problems.

Aim: The goal of the current study was to examine a theoretical model linking maternal overcontrol, children’s social competence, teacher-child conflict and children’s internalising problems in the context of China.

Method: Using a one-year longitudinal study, maternal overcontrol was assessed through observation during mother-child interaction tasks. Teachers rated children’s social competence, internalising problems, and their relationship with each child. Participants were 216 children (110 boys; Mage at Time 1 = 48.59 months, SD =3.73), recruited from two public kindergartens in Shanghai, China.

Results: The results show that: (a) maternal overcontrol indirectly predicted children’s internalising problems through its negative association with the child’s social competence; and (b) the indirect effect was moderated by teacher-child conflict, such that the higher level of teacher-child conflict exacerbated the negative effect of maternal overcontrol on children’s social competence.

Conclusions: Children’s social competence mediated the effect of maternal overcontrol on children’s internalising problems, and teacher-child conflict reinforces this negative effect.

Implications for children and families: To improve your child’s social skills and alleviate internalisation problems, value and support your children’s autonomy.

Implications for practitioners: You need to maintain a positive relationship (i.e., high in warmth, low in conflict) with children and create a good class environment to better facilitate children’s development.

Funding: This study was supported by a grant from the Social Science Foundation of the Ministry of Education of China (grant number 304-B-9101-19-001003) and the China National Society of Early Childhood Education (grant number K20210054).

Key words: children’s voices, families’ voices, maternal overcontrol, internalising problems

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

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