Fathers' frightening behaviours and sensitivity with infants: relations with fathers' attachment representations, father-infant attachment, and children's later outcomes

Nancy Hazen, Laura Piazza, Deborah Jacobvitz, Erin Boyd-Soisson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
620 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This longitudinal study of 125 families investigated whether negative child outcomes related to fathers' frightening (FR) behaviors with infants would be mitigated if fathers were also sensitive. Results indicated that children whose fathers were FR and insensitive with them during infancy showed the highest emotional under-regulation at 24 months and highest teacher ratings of attention problems at age 7, whereas those whose fathers were FR and sensitive did not differ from children whose fathers were sensitive but not FR. Sensitive caregiving mitigated the negative impact of FR behaviors on child outcomes for fathers, but not mothers. Perhaps fathers who can be sensitive but also engage in stimulating, albeit frightening, interactions with their infants may actually be scaffolding their ability to regulate their affect in intensely emotional situations. Frightening behaviors by mothers may be more problematic for child outcomes since these behaviors conflict with the primary caregiver's role of providing comfort.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-69
Number of pages19
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
Volume180
Issue number1/2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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