Association between the mother’s social cognition and the child’s social functioning in kindergarten: The mediating role of the child’s social cognition

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Abstract

Children’s ability to adjust to the social rules and expectations in the educational environment is of major concern to researchers and practitioners alike. Accordingly, the main purpose of the present study was to examine predictors of children’s social functioning in kindergarten with a specific focus on (a) maternal factors and (b) children’s social cognition. Using a multi-method (self-reports and direct assessments), multi-informant (child, mother, teacher) design, we collected data from 301 kindergarten children and their mothers tapping the mother’s social cognition (general and child-related) and parenting style, and children’s social cognition (social information processing) and functioning in kindergarten. We found direct associations between the mother and child’s social cognition, between the mother’s authoritarian parenting style and her child’s less competent social cognition and behavior, and between the child’s social cognition and social functioning. Finally, as hypothesized, we found a number of interesting mediated effects. Most notably, we found that the association between the mother’s social cognition (her tendency to attribute hostile intent to unknown others) and the child’s social cognition (his/her tendency to generate less competent responses) is fully mediated by the mother’s higher levels of authoritarian parenting style. The important theoretical and clinical implications of our findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number358
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was supported by grant number 492/16 to the first author from the Israeli Science Foundation (ISF).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords

  • Kindergarten
  • Mother-child relationships
  • Parenting style
  • Social cognition
  • Social functioning
  • Social information processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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