Maternal Sensitivity and Child Wariness in the Transition to Kindergarten

Diane M. Early, Sara E. Rimm-Kaufman, Martha J. Cox, Gitanjali Saluja, Robert C. Pianta, Robert H. Bradley, C. Chris Payne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Objective. This study tested maternal sensitivity as a moderator of the stability of wary behavior between 15 months and the transition to school. Design. Observational data from 15-month-old children and their mothers, kindergarten teacher reports, and maternal reports during the transition to kindergarten from 215 children from 3 sites (North Carolina, Virginia, and Arkansas) of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD; 1994), Study of Early Child Care are used. Results. Findings indicate significant stability of inhibition from 15 months to the transition to kindergarten and a significant interaction between maternal sensitivity and 15-month wariness in predicting inhibition in the transition to kindergarten. Among children who displayed wariness at 15 months, greater maternal sensitivity was associated with less inhibition during the transition to kindergarten. For children who did not display wariness at 15 months, there was no relation between maternal sensitivity and inhibition in the transition to kindergarten. Conclusions. These findings suggest moderate stability of this early temperamental characteristic and point to the importance of responsive parenting in its modification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-377
Number of pages23
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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