Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Child Development

First Advisor

Damaris Pease


Changes in maternal behavior associated with changes in the age of the child; relationships among maternal behavior, child competence, and family social status; and prediction of child competence using objective and subjective assessments of mothers and children were the focus of the longitudinal research. Fifty-two mothers and their first-born children were assessed when the children were 3, and 4 years old. Forty-eight of the dyads also were assessed when the children were 5 years old. Maternal affective and directive behaviors occurring in a video-recorded mother-child problem-solving situation at assessment Yrs 1 and 2 were observed using the Parent-Child Interaction Code. At Yrs 1, 2 and 3 maternal Instrumental and Expressive behaviors were assessed using selective items from the Q-Sort Inventory of Parenting Behaviors. Children's competence was assessed with the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Revised (PPVT-R) at Yrs 1, 2, and 3, and with the Iowa Inventory of Parental Assessment of Children's Competencies at Yr 3. Hollingshead's Four Factor Index of Social Position indicated family social status at Yr 1;The findings were consistent with Vygotsky's theory that as children increase in their ability to solve problems independently (associated here with an increase in age), the adult assumes a less directive role in the problem-solving situation. Regression results suggested that a medium level of directiveness may facilitate growth in the child's competence. Maternal judgments of the child's mental ability significantly correlated with the child's PPVT-R scores. Maternal report of her own instrumental behavior and the observed maternal negative interactions with the child at Yr 2 contributed significantly to the regression model predicting child's competence at Yr 3. Social status and reported maternal expressive behavior did not contribute significantly to the models predicting child's competence;Although results suggest that parents who are relatively less directive may stimulate greater cognitive growth on the part of the child, future research should attend to maternal reports, as well as to objective measures of the child's competence, rather than relying primarily on limited observations of maternal behaviors.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Janet Nieuwsma Melby



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

164 pages