How mothers encourage and discourage infants' motor actions

Lana B. Karasik, Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda, Karen E. Adolph, Katherine A. Dimitropoulou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The content of mothers' emotional, verbal, and gestural communication to their infants was examined under conditions of potential physical risk in a laboratory motor task. Mothers encouraged and discouraged their 12- and 18-month-old infants to crawl or walk down a sloping walkway. Mothers expressed positive affect on nearly every trial. They rarely expressed purely negative affect in their faces and voices, even when discouraging. Instead, they discouraged infants with a mixture of positive and negative expressions. In both encourage and discourage conditions, mothers coupled their emotional messages with rich verbal and gestural information to elicit infants' attention, regulate their location, guide their actions, and describe the situation and potential consequences of their actions. The content of mothers' communication was attuned to infants' age and locomotor experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-392
Number of pages27
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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