Mother-Child Attachment and Peer Social Competence in Unacquainted and Acquainted Peers

Elissa Prado Gonzalez, University of Texas at Austin

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Abstract: The impact of mother-child attachment on the development of peer interactions of toddlers was examined longitudinally. To determine the level of attachment security, the mothers completed the Q-set assessment. The toddlers ranged in age from 2 years 3 months to 3 years 7 months and were initially unacquainted with each other. The toddlers were observed in the classroom setting at the beginning of the study and then were given 12 weeks to interact and become acquainted with each other. At the end of the 12 weeks, the toddlers were observed once again. Although attachment patterns did not predict the social interaction process of getting acquainted with peers, it did predict the development of the emotional regulation process when getting acquainted with peers. Secure attachment is related to less under regulation even when children do not know each other, and as they become acquainted, the more secure children are, the more likely they are to increase their emotion regulation. Gender differences were also analyzed. Attachment patterns were predictive of peer interactions in girls but not boys. When girls were first introduced to their peers, secure girls initiated more interactions. After girls were acquainted with their peers, secure girls were less under regulated and antisocial.

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