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Mothers’ estimates of their preschool children and parenting stress

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Author(s): Benjamin Loader | Christina Kummer | Evelyn Peer

Journal: Psychological Test and Assessment Modeling
ISSN 2190-0493

Volume: 53;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 228;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: mothers’ estimates | child behaviour problems | parenting stress | vocabulary

ABSTRACT
The present study investigates whether the results of the study of Willinger and Eisenwort (2005) could also apply to a sample of preschool children not referred to a tertiary medical institution. Moreover, we were interested in the accuracy of maternal estimates of their children’s development regarding vocabulary for parenting stress, regarding behavioural problems, intellectual development, age and gender of the child. 108 children between the ages of three and six and their mothers were investigated by several diagnostic scales concerning child development with respect to language, motor and intellectual development as well as child behavioural problems and parenting stress concering child and parent characteristics. The mothers’ estimates regarding the children`s vocabulary were assessed by the same vocabulary test used for the children by presenting the test as questionnaire to the mothers. There was a significant trend towards an overestimation of a child’s developmental functioning regarding vocabulary. Group comparisons between groups of different levels of maternal overestimations (mild, moderate and severe overestimation) of their child’s language development with respect to parenting stress levels considering age, sex, intellectual develoment and child behaviour problems showed the lowest parenting stress level regarding child characteristics in the group of severe overestimation and the highest level of parenting stress regarding parent characteristics in the group of mild overestimation. Significant influences of child behaviour and intellectual level on parenting stress were found. The results showed that mothers should not be used as only source of information about their children’s developmental status, especially with respect to their active vocabulary. However, maternal overestimation seems to have a positive impact on parenting stress regarding child characteristics, which could possibly be explained as a defense mechanism, by cognitive dissonance or by mothers being the extended identity of their children.
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