Ebenézer A. de Oliveira (Department of Psychology, Malone University)
Emily A. Jackson (Department of Psychology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania)
- This study examined whether various forms of observed maternal support would decrease linearly with increase in child age or motor skill, and increase linearly as the observed problem-solving task became more difficult. The study also tested the moderation role of maternal self-perceived empathy in the maternal support during mother-child problem solving.
- Teachers rated children's motor skills; verbal and physical support were systematically observed during a co-constructive collaborative problem solving task. Mothers diminished verbal support as children aged. Also, higher teacher ratings of children's motor skill related negatively to lower maternal cognitive support, consistent with the notion of scaffolding. Mothers reporting higher empathy increased their cognitive and physical support as task difficulty also increased.
- Results suggest that more empathetic mothers provide support that is neither excessive nor inadequate, but just right, based on objective task difficulty. When participating in joint problem-solving tasks with young children, mothers (and other adults) are encouraged to: (1) be sensitive to children's cognitive perspective and emotional state, (2) value, encourage, and praise children's efforts, and (3) adjust amount of support not only based on children's age, but also on their skill level and task difficulty
Author keywords: collaborative problem solving, scaffolding, maternal empathy, child motor skills, preschoolers, mother-child dyads