Maternal control and sensitivity, child gender, and maternal education in relation to children's behavioral outcomes in African American families

Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda, Rahil D. Briggs, Sandra G. McClowry, David L. Snow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

92 Scopus citations


This study examined relationships between mother-child interactions and children's behaviors in 119 urban African American mothers and their 6-7 year old children. Interactions during a cooking task and a follow-up child clean-up task were videotaped. Principal components analyses of behaviors during the cooking task yielded two factors in mothers (Sensitivity and Control), and three in children (Task Involvement, Responsiveness, and Communicative). Children's negativity during a clean up task was coded and mothers were interviewed about their children's problem behaviors. Parenting sensitivity was associated with positive child behaviors and parenting control was associated with negative child behaviors. Maternal education was associated with greater maternal sensitivity and less control. Child gender predicted their task involvement, responsiveness, communicativeness, negativity during clean-up, and behavior problems; maternal control and sensitivity mediated some of these relations. Findings underscore heterogeneity of African American parenting and factors that promote positive parenting and children's behavioral adjustment in early childhood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-331
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2009



  • African American mothers
  • Gender differences
  • Maternal education
  • Mother-child observations
  • Parenting control
  • Parenting sensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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