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, 9 (3), 187-205

Caregiver Traumatization Adversely Impacts Young Children's Mental Representations on the MacArthur Story Stem Battery

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Caregiver Traumatization Adversely Impacts Young Children's Mental Representations on the MacArthur Story Stem Battery

Daniel S Schechter et al. Attach Hum Dev.

Abstract

The aim of our study was to investigate the impact of maternal exposure to family violence, maltreatment, and related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on young children's mental representations of self and caregivers. Participant mothers (n=24) and children (n=25) were recruited from a referred sample when they were 4-7 years old. Maternal report and child story stem narratives were used. Mother's experience of domestic violence and severity of violence-related PTSD symptoms robustly predicted more dysregulated aggression, attentional bias to danger and distress, as well as more avoidance of and withdrawal from conflicts presented in the children's story stems. Less narrative coherence was also noted. Traumatized mothers experience and symptoms prior to their child's turning 4 years old adversely affected their child's mental representations from 4-7 years.

Keywords: Child mental representations; Domestic violence; Emotion regulation; Intergenerational transmission of trauma; Parental PTSD; Play narrative.

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