Maternal Directiveness in Interactions with Mentally Handicapped Children: An Analytical Commentary

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maternal directiveness, parent-child interaction, mental retardation/mental handicap, child development, early intervention

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Maternal directiveness is portrayed as a negative interactional phenomenon in the mental retardation literature. Based on the speculation that a directive interactional style is causally related to poor developmental outcomes, the reduction of maternal directive behaviour is becoming a major thrust in early intervention work. This paper questions the characterization of directiveness as an inherently negative interactional phenomenon and highlights limitations in our current understanding of directiveness. Critical issues requiring attention in future research are identified and early interventionists cautioned that management of maternal directive behaviour must be founded on sound, empirically validated principles.

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Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, v. 31, issue 4, p. 531-549