Maternal supervision of children during their first 3 years of life: the influence of maternal depression and child gender

J Pediatr Psychol. 2014 Apr;39(3):349-57. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jst090. Epub 2013 Dec 19.


Objective: The present study examined the effect of child gender and maternal depressive symptoms on routine supervisory practices of mothers longitudinally.

Method: Self-report supervision practices were obtained at various time points from 3 months through 3 years of age.

Results: From 3 to 36 months, the quantity of time mothers reported supervising decreased from 7.1 to 6.3 hours, and the proportion of time spent in an intense style decreased from 63 to 46%, whereas that spent in a peripheral style increased from 14 to 32%. Mothers reported more time supervising girls and a greater proportion of this was in an intense style. Mothers with elevated depressive symptoms reported more time supervising but a lower proportion in an intense style.

Conclusion: Over the first 36 months of life, routine patterns of supervision change and these vary as a function of maternal depression symptoms and child gender. Implications for child injury risk are discussed.

Keywords: child development; child gender; maternal depression; supervision.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Sex Factors