Identifying Mother-child Interaction Styles Using a Person-centered Approach

Jackie A. Nelson, Marion O'Brien, Kevin J. Grimm, Esther M. Leerkes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Parent-child conflict in the context of a supportive relationship has been discussed as a potentially constructive interaction pattern; the current study is the first to test this using a holistic analytic approach. Interaction styles, defined as mother-child conflict in the context of maternal sensitivity, were identified and described with demographic and stress-related characteristics of families. Longitudinal associations were tested between interaction styles and children's later social competence. Participants included 814 partnered mothers with a first-grade child. Latent profile analysis identified agreeable, dynamic, and disconnected interaction styles. Mothers' intimacy with a partner, depressive symptoms, and authoritarian childrearing beliefs, along with children's later conflict with a best friend and externalizing problems, were associated with group membership. Notably, the dynamic style, characterized by high sensitivity and high conflict, included families who experienced psychological and relational stressors. Findings are discussed with regard to how family stressors shape parent-child interaction patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-324
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Latent profile analysis
  • Maternal sensitivity
  • Parent-child conflict
  • Person-centered

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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