Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Scaramella, Laura

Second Advisor

Morris, Amanda

Third Advisor

Weems, Carl

Fourth Advisor

Frick, Paul

Fifth Advisor

Goldstein, Sara


Learning to comply with parental commands and requests is an important developmental achievement during toddlerhood. Although more responsive parenting often is associated with increases in children's compliance during the toddler years, the role of mothers' and toddlers' language abilities on change in compliance has largely been ignored. The current study addressed this gap using a sample of low-income, primarily African American mothers and toddlers (N = 55). Two models examining the role of receptive vocabulary were evaluated. First, mothers with higher receptive vocabulary scores were hypothesized to display more warm responsive communication in a teaching situation, which would be related to higher children's receptive vocabulary scores, and increased child compliance from age 2 to 3. Conversely, mothers with lower receptive vocabulary scores were expected to use more hostile intrusive communication, or communication patterns that would predict lower receptive vocabulary scores in children and increases in noncompliance over the third year. While direct associations were supported linking mothers' communication style with mothers' receptive vocabulary and change in compliance and noncompliance from age 2 to age 3, mediational hypotheses were not supported. The results of this study, while limited by small sample size, indicate that mothers' use of warm responsive or hostile intrusive communication in teaching situations affects their toddlers' development of compliance and noncompliance during the third year of life.


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