Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 543–553 | Cite as

Maternal Mind-Mindedness and Children’s Behavioral Difficulties: Mitigating the Impact of Low Socioeconomic Status

  • Elizabeth Meins
  • Luna C. Muñoz Centifanti
  • Charles Fernyhough
  • Sarah Fishburn


Relations between mothers’ tendency to comment appropriately on their 8-month-olds’ internal states (mind-mindedness) and children’s behavioral difficulties (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire) at ages 44 and 61 months were investigated in a socially diverse sample (N = 171, 88 boys). Controlling for maternal depressive symptoms, perceived social support, sensitivity, child language ability, and child gender, maternal mind-mindedness was negatively related to children’s externalizing and internalizing behaviors specifically in low socioeconomic status (SES) families. Furthermore, behavioral difficulties at age 44 months mediated the relation between maternal mind-mindedness and behavioral difficulties at age 61 months, but only for low SES families. These findings are discussed with reference to possible ways in which mind-mindedness could inform interventions targeted at at-risk groups.


Maternal mind-mindedness Low socioeconomic status Internalizing difficulties Externalizing difficulties Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire 



This research was supported by grants R000239456 and RES-000-23-1073 from the Economic and Social Research Council. We thank Bronia Arnott, Lorna Elliott, Alexandra Hearn, Beth Liddle, Lucia Vittorini, and Kathryn Parkinson for their valuable contributions to data collection and coding, and the families and children’s teachers for their generous participation


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth Meins
    • 1
  • Luna C. Muñoz Centifanti
    • 1
  • Charles Fernyhough
    • 1
  • Sarah Fishburn
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Wolfson Research InstituteDurham University, Science LaboratoriesDurhamUK

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