Toddler inhibited temperament, maternal cortisol reactivity and embarrassment, and intrusive parenting

Elizabeth J. Kiel, Kristin A. Buss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The relevance of parenting behavior to toddlers' development necessitates a better understanding of the influences on parents during parent-child interactions. Toddlers' inhibited temperament may relate to parenting behaviors, such as intrusiveness, that predict outcomes later in childhood. The conditions under which inhibited temperament relates to intrusiveness, however, remain understudied. A multimethod approach would acknowledge that several levels of processes determine mothers' experiences during situations in which they witness their toddlers interacting with novelty. As such, the current study examined maternal cortisol reactivity and embarrassment about shyness as moderators of the relation between toddlers' inhibited temperament and maternal intrusive behavior. Participants included 92 24-month-old toddlers and their mothers. Toddlers' inhibited temperament and maternal intrusiveness were measured observationally in the laboratory. Mothers supplied saliva samples at the beginning of the laboratory visit and 20 minutes after observation. Maternal cortisol reactivity interacted with inhibited temperament in relation to intrusive behavior, such that mothers with higher levels of cortisol reactivity were observed to be more intrusive with more highly inhibited toddlers. Embarrassment related to intrusive behavior as a main effect. These results highlight the importance of considering child characteristics and psychobiological processes in relation to parenting behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)512-517
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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