Maternal depression symptomology, stress, and behavioral outcomes in children: a one year longitudinal study

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Hechtner, Tamara
Major Professor
Susan M. Hegland
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Human Development and Family Studies

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies focuses on the interactions among individuals, families, and their resources and environments throughout their lifespans. It consists of three majors: Child, Adult, and Family Services (preparing students to work for agencies serving children, youth, adults, and families); Family Finance, Housing, and Policy (preparing students for work as financial counselors, insurance agents, loan-officers, lobbyists, policy experts, etc); and Early Childhood Education (preparing students to teach and work with young children and their families).


The Department of Human Development and Family Studies was formed in 1991 from the merger of the Department of Family Environment and the Department of Child Development.

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  • College of Human Sciences (parent college)
  • Department of Child Development (predecessor)
  • Department of Family Environment (predecessor)

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The purpose of the present study is to evaluate the longitudinal effects of maternal depression and stress on children's teacher-rated social skills (i.e., assertion, cooperation, and self-control) and playground observed behaviors (i.e., positive, negative, and nonsocial) in a community setting with low-income families. The current study consisted of 122 mothers and their kindergarten and/or first grade child who participated in a larger longitudinal study examining the transition of Head Start students into elementary school. Families were selected from the transition study if their incomes were less than or equal to 200% of the poverty threshold in the spring of 1994, and if the informant was the mother at both Time 1 and Time 2. Mothers were queried about major life events, daily hassles, and their current level of depressive symptomology. Teachers rated children's behavior in regard to assertion, cooperation, and self-control. Children's positive, negative, and nonsocial behaviors were also observed on the playground by trained observers. Correlations among the study variables resulted in the majority of relationships occurring according to reviewed relevant literature and theory. Maternal reported depressive symptomology levels positively correlated with mother reported daily hassles and life events, and teacher-rated child self-control social skills and observed child negative playground behaviors. Results of a series of regression analyses indicated that maternal depressive symptomology level at Time 1 and Time 2 accounted for a significant proportion of variance in teacher-ratings of child self control after controlling for parent education level, income-to-needs ratio, and child sex.

Sat Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2000