Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 44, Issue 6, pp 751–765 | Cite as

Maternal Sensitivity and Internalizing Problems: Evidence from Two Longitudinal Studies in Early Childhood

  • Rianne Kok
  • Mariëlle Linting
  • Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg
  • Marinus H. van IJzendoorn
  • Vincent W. V. Jaddoe
  • Albert Hofman
  • Frank C. Verhulst
  • Henning Tiemeier
Original Article


The goal of this study is to clarify the relation between maternal sensitivity and internalizing problems during the preschool period. For this purpose, a longitudinal, bidirectional model was tested in two large prospective, population-based cohorts, the Generation R Study and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (NICHD SECCYD), including over 1,800 mother–child dyads in total. Maternal sensitivity was repeatedly observed in mother–child interaction tasks and information on child internalizing problems was obtained from maternal reports. Modest but consistent associations between maternal sensitivity and internalizing problems were found in both cohorts, confirming the importance of sensitive parenting for positive development in the preschool years. Pathways from maternal sensitivity to child internalizing problems were consistently observed but child-to-mother pathways were only found in the NICHD SECCYD sample.


Maternal sensitivity Internalizing problems Longitudinal Bidirectional 



The Generation R Study is conducted by the Erasmus Medical Center in close collaboration with the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Erasmus University, the Municipal Health Service Rotterdam area, the Rotterdam Homecare Foundation and the Stichting Trombosedienst & Artsenlaboratorium Rijnmond (STAR). We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of general practitioners, hospitals, midwives and pharmacies in Rotterdam. The first phase of the Generation R Study is made possible by financial support from the Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam, the Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (Zon Mw). The present study was supported by additional grants from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (grant no. 452-04-306 and grant no. 453-09-003 (VIDI and VICI) to MJBK; grant no 017.106.370 (NWO ZonMw VIDI) to HT, and NWO SPINOZA prize to MHvIJ).

Conflict of interest

Dr Frank C. Verhulst publishes the Dutch versions of the ASEBA from which he receives remuneration.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rianne Kok
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Mariëlle Linting
    • 1
  • Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg
    • 1
  • Marinus H. van IJzendoorn
    • 1
    • 4
  • Vincent W. V. Jaddoe
    • 2
    • 5
    • 6
  • Albert Hofman
    • 5
  • Frank C. Verhulst
    • 3
  • Henning Tiemeier
    • 3
    • 5
    • 7
  1. 1.Centre for Child and Family StudiesLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.The Generation R Study GroupErasmus University Medical CenterRotterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryErasmus University Medical Center-Sophia Children’s HospitalRotterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.School of Pedagogical and Educational SciencesErasmus UniversityRotterdamThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Department of EpidemiologyErasmus University Medical CenterRotterdamThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Department of PediatricsErasmus University Medical CenterRotterdamThe Netherlands
  7. 7.Department of PsychiatryErasmus University Medical CenterRotterdamThe Netherlands

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