A new measure of toddler parenting practices and associations with attachment and mothers' sensitivity, competence, and enjoyment of parenting

Melanie J. Zimmer-Gembeck*, Haley J. Webb, Rae Thomas, Stefanie Klag

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Self-determination theorists argue that parents can support or thwart their children's psychological needs for relatedness, autonomy, and competence. The first aim of this study was to develop a measure to assess six dimensions of parenting theoretically linked to meeting toddlers' needs. The second aim was to examine the associations of these dimensions with mothers' sensitivity, attachment, and parenting attitudes. Participants were 61 mothers who expressed having parenting difficulties. Mothers completed questionnaires to assess their warmth, autonomy support, structure, rejection, coercion, and chaos, and self-reported their parenting competence and enjoyment. Mother–toddler interactions were observed to assess mothers’ sensitivity, and attachment was assessed with the Strange Situation. Mothers who reported less coercion were more sensitive. Most parenting practices were associated with parents' perceptions of competence and enjoyment of parenting in the expected directions. Self-reported parenting was not associated with attachment, but greater sensitivity was observed among secure compared to insecure mother–toddler pairs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1422-1436
Number of pages15
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2015


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