The first dental visit: a study of the mother-child attachment relationship and child coping

Blackburn, Deborah Moore Webb, Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Virginia
Ainsworth, Mary D., Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Gansneder, Bruce, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

The primary goal of the present study was to examine the role of the parent-child relationship in fostering the child's development of coping skills. The first dental visit provided a unique opportunity to study children's responses to a naturally occurring stressful situation. Through comparison of several predictor variables to measures of dental outcome, it was possible to identify a specific pattern of mother-child interaction which significantly related to dental outcome. Specifically, children who were described as more dependent on their mother's physical presence for comfort exhibited greater physiological arousal in the dental setting. Contrary .to predictions, security of attachment and maternal dental anxiety were not significantly related to dental outcome. Nevertheless, the findings from the present study suggest that certain patterns of parentchild interaction, in particular those which promote dependency, contribute to the child's coping response. Furthermore, the present findings suggest that an important factor in the development of dependency is the child's inability to comfort himself when stressed. Such results point to the possible benefit of teaching fearful children strategies to self-regulate internal distress. Thus, results from the present study have both theoretical and clinical implications for an understanding of the - development of coping responses in children.

Note: Abstract extracted from PDF file via OCR.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Adjustment (Psychology) in children, Parent and child
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: