• Building a Predictive Model of Social-Emotional Adjustment: Exploring the Relationship between Parenting Self-Efficacy, Parenting Behaviour and Psychological Distress in Mothers of Young Children in Ireland.

      Coyle, Sabrina; Sarma, Kiran M; Maguire, Catherine; De Flumere, Leora (2021-03-11)
      The purpose of this study was to generate greater understanding of social-emotional difficulties in infants and toddlers in an Irish context. This study compared rates of reported social-emotional difficulties in young children in clinical and non-clinical samples and probed a predictive model of social-emotional adjustment. Data were collected from a cross-sectional sample of 72 mothers of young children aged between 12 and 48 months. Mothers were recruited from waiting lists for child Early Intervention services (clinical sample) and community mother-toddler groups (non-clinical sample). Mothers completed a questionnaire battery which assessed parenting self-efficacy, parenting behaviour, psychological distress and child social-emotional adjustment. The results indicated that 55.5% of young children in the clinical sample and 15% in the non-clinical sample had significant social-emotional problems. Similarly, 55.5% of young children in the clinical sample and 30% in the non-clinical sample had significant delays in the acquisition of social-emotional competencies. Two hierarchical multiple regressions were carried out with social-emotional problems and social-emotional competencies as the respective criterion variables. Clinical or non-clinical group membership, parenting satisfaction and maternal psychological distress were found to be significant predictors of child social-emotional problems in a model which explained 59% of the variance. Task-specific self-efficacy was the only significant predictor of child social-emotional competencies in a model which explained 21% of the variance. The significant rates of social-emotional problems in young children in the current study and the potential negative impact on child health and wellbeing, suggest that the early assessment of social-emotional adjustment should be incorporated into routine clinical assessment for young children. For services to effectively meet the needs of children with social-emotional difficulties and their families, consideration of maternal factors is also necessary.