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The Role of Maternal Verbal Co-construction Skills in Attachment Relationships during Early Childhood
Past parent-child attachment studies mainly focused on behavioral exchanges during the early years without exploring the role played by verbal exchanges. During the transition to early childhood, developing cognitive and language abilities provide a new window to examine the influence of mother-led verbal communication skills about attachment-related events, and whether those skills contribute to child attachment security. This study investigates maternal verbal communication skills (i.e., co-construction skills), their relationships with maternal sensitivity and child attachment security, and whether maternal co-construction skills add unique information to the prediction of child security, above and beyond any contributions of maternal sensitivity at 2-3 years of age. Fifty-four mother-child dyads participated in the current study. Maternal co-construction skills were assessed via a joint storytelling task; transcriptions were created and then coded using a set of three scales. Maternal sensitivity and attachment security were assessed using the Maternal Behavior with Preschoolers Q-set (MBPQS) and Attachment Q-set (AQS), respectively. Structural equation modeling was used to address the questions posed. Results indicated that maternal co-construction is not related with maternal sensitivity, though some maternal co-constructive abilities were associated with sensitivity; maternal co- construction was not a significant correlate of child attachment security at 2-3 years of age. Overall, results from this current study extend those of former research on maternal verbal co- construction skills and their relationship with mother-child attachment relationships, demonstrating that maternal language input may not start to play an important role in secure base behavior (i.e., security) until children are older. However, the association between some maternal co-construction skills and maternal sensitivity revealed the potential importance of language communication in mother-child attachment relationship. Verbal abilities were argued to be an important part in parent-child relationships and may influences child attachment longitudinally not concurrently at the beginning of early childhood.