Overall, the mothers who participated in the study were not especially consistent in their approach to the conversations at the two time points, whereas the children were highly consistent. Specifically, as reflected in Figure 6.3, it was only in the context of the tornado conversations that mothers' ratios of elaborations to repetitions were correlated over time. In contrast to their mothers, for both types of events, the children in the sample were highly consistent across the 6-month interval between sessions. That is, for both the tornado and nontraumatic event conversations, children who had higher levels of participation and provided more unique content at the first session also participated more and provided more unique content at the second session.
Mothers Child-Part Child-Content figure 6.3. The strength of correlations (Pearson's r) from Session 1 to Session 2, within participant groups, for the tornado and nontraumatic-event conversations. The abbreviation "Child-Part" indicates children's participation in the conversations. Asterisks indicate that the correlation was statistically significant.
Relations Over Time: Children to Mothers
Consistent with prior research on conversations about nontraumatic events, there were few correlations between children's behavior at Session 1 and mothers' behavior at Session 2. As reflected in Figure 6.4, for the tornado, there were not significant cross-lag correlations between children's behavior 4 months after the storm and their mothers' behavior 6 months later (10 months after the storm). Thus, there was no evidence that children's earlier behavior in the context of conversations about the tornado influenced later maternal behavior. In the context of the non-traumatic events only, mothers had higher elaboration ratios at Session 2 with children who at the earlier session had provided more total unique content.
Relations Over Time: Mothers to Children
In contrast to the lack of prediction of maternal behavior in the tornado conversations by children's behavior 6 months earlier, there was evidence that the way mothers talked about the tornado at Session 1 influenced the way children talked about the storm at Session 2. As reflected in Figure 6.4, mothers who had higher ratios of elaborations to repetitions as they talked about the tornado had children who 6 months later were
Mother to Child
Child to Mother
Mother to Child figure 6.4. The strength of correlations (Pearson's r) from Session 1 to Session 2, across participant groups (i.e., child to mother and mother to child), for the tornado and nontraumatic-event conversations. The abbreviation "Tor_part" indicates children's participation in the tornado conversations. "Tor_cont" indicates the amount of content provided in the tornado conversations, "Non-part" indicates children's participation in the nontraumatic-event conversations, and "Non-cont" indicates the amount of content provided in the nontraumatic-event conversations. Asterisks indicate that the correlation was statistically significant.
more participatory in the conversations and also contributed more unique content. For the nontraumatic events, the correlations were not as strong and did not reach statistical significance.
To determine the relative contributions of concurrent and earlier maternal behavior, we conducted stepwise regression analyses with children's age in months, total maternal utterances at Session 1, and maternal elaboration ratios from both sessions as predictors of the child variables at Session 2. For the tornado event, maternal elaboration ratio at Session 1 emerged as the most significant predictor of the total number of propositions the children contributed at Session 2, accounting for 35% of the variance. Children's age brought the total variance accounted for to 47%. Maternal elaboration ratio at Session 1 also contributed unique variance to the total amount of content the children provided at Session 2: it added 13% of variance above the 40% accounted for by age. For the nontraumatic events, the largest predictor of the total number of propositions the children provided was age, which accounted for 31% of the variance. Maternal elaboration ratio at Session 1 contributed an additional 11% of variance. Maternal elaboration ratio at Session 1 did not add to prediction of the amount of unique content the children provided about the nontraumatic events at Session 2.
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