Is maternal separation anxiety associated with school readiness?
Background. Increasing rates of maternal employment highlight the need for non-maternal child care for infants at an earlier age. Several studies have shown that employment induced maternal depression or psychological distress is associated with the child's socio-emotional and cognitive development. However, separation anxiety, a common phenomenon observed among employed mothers during early years, has seldom been studied. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the role of maternal separation anxiety in the child's cognitive development. Methods. Data were obtained from Phase I (birth to 36 months) of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (NICHD SECCYD). Bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed to determine the association between separation anxiety groups and child outcomes. Multivariate analysis was also used to examine the mediating and/or moderating effect of sensitivity and moderating effect of difficult temperament. Results. Separation anxiety showed a negative association with the Bracken, attachment security, maternal sensitivity and psychological state. Children whose mothers never reported high levels of separation anxiety showed higher levels of school readiness and attachment security compared to those whose mothers experienced high levels of separation anxiety at least once. There was a significant interaction between separation anxiety and maternal sensitivity for the Bracken and attachment security indicating the moderating effect of sensitivity. Maternal sensitivity was also found to partially mediate the association between high levels of separation anxiety and school readiness or attachment security. However, the interaction between difficult temperament and separation anxiety was not significant for any of the child outcomes. Conclusions. High levels of separation anxiety have a negative impact on school readiness, attachment security, maternal sensitivity and psychological state. In addition, mothers who experience high levels of separation anxiety but are sensitive during the mother-child interaction have children with high school readiness and attachment security compared to those who are less sensitive. Keywords. Maternal separation anxiety, School readiness.
Educational psychology|Developmental psychology
Sawant, Meenal J, "Is maternal separation anxiety associated with school readiness?" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1470302.