Early maternal warm responsiveness as a predictor of child social skills: Direct and indirect paths of influence over time

Laura M. Steelman, Mike A. Assel, Paul R. Swank, Karen E. Smith, Susan H. Landry

49 Scopus citations


This longitudinal study evaluated the effects of early maternal warm responsiveness on later child social skills, investigating the roles of maternal discipline and child language as possible intervening and reciprocal influences. Mother-child dyads (n= 252) were assessed when the children were at 12, 24, 40, and 54 months of age. Structural equation modeling (SEM) results indicated that early maternal warm responsiveness has a direct effect on later child social skills above and beyond concurrent effects and indirect effects through other variables, emphasizing the far-reaching influence of maternal warm responsiveness early in the child's life. Additionally, maternal disciplinary preferences were found to play a mediating role between early maternal warm responsiveness and later child social skills. Child language did not play a mediating role, though reciprocal relationships between maternal and child variables were found.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-156
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002



  • Discipline
  • Mothering
  • Responsiveness
  • Social skills
  • Warmth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Education

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