The effect of mothers responsiveness to children's social smiles on children's engagement behavior
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Although it is known that mother’s general responsiveness to children’s emotion predicts the long-term outcomes in children, the processes underlying the effect of mothers’ responsiveness are poorly understood. This study examined the effect of mother’s moment-to-moment responsiveness and unresponsiveness to children’s smiles on children’s interest in engaging their mothers during ongoing interaction. In 20-minute videotaped mother-child interaction, children’s smiles, mothers’ responsiveness, and children’s engagement were coded. Children’s smiles were identified by using Izard’s AFFEX facial coding system. Mothers’ responses to these smiles were coded as responsive or unresponsive. Children’s reactions in turn were coded as engaging or not engaging. It was found that children engaged mothers more when mothers were responsive than unresponsive to children’s smiles. Furthermore, the effect of mothers’ responsiveness to children’s smile was found in the first 5-second interval but not in the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th 5-second intervals. Finally, the latency to children’s first engagement was shorter when mothers were responsive than unresponsive. These findings may elucidate one potential explanatory process underlying the effects of mothers’ responsiveness to children’s emotion on children’s development.