Attachment disorganization and controlling behavior in middle childhood: Maternal and child precursors and correlates

  • Bureau J
  • Easlerbrooks M
  • Lyons-Ruth K
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Abstract

conceptualizations of disorganization in infancy and controlling behavior in preschool forged new directions in attachment research. However, there currently is no valid coding system for behavioral manifestations of attachment after 7 years of age. The present study presents the validity of an instrument for coding both disorganized and rolereversed behavior from ages 7 to 9; the Middle Childhood Disorganization and Control (MCDC) scales. In the present study, 43 mother–child dyads at socioeconomic risk, followed from infancy, were assessed on the MCDC at age 8. Analyses revealed that children with higher combined punitive/disorganized scores were significantly more likely to: (1) come from families referred for clinical home visiting because of concerns about the quality of the parent–infant relationships; (2) have higher scores for disorganization in infancy if from the clinically-referred subgroup; (3) are more likely to show disorganized representations; and (4) show higher externalizing and internalizing behavior problems. Higher caregiving MCDC scores were associated with more maternal withdrawal behavior in infancy. In conclusion, the present study provided the first validity data for an observational measure of disorganization and control in middle childhood.

Author-supplied keywords

  • At-risk
  • Controlling attachment
  • Disorganized attachment
  • Middle childhood
  • Parent-child interaction
  • Role-reversal

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Authors

  • Jean François Bureau

  • M. Ann Easlerbrooks

  • Karlen Lyons-Ruth

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