Individual variation, correspondence, stability, and change in mother and toddler play

Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda, Marc H. Bornstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Individual differences and developmental changes in mother and toddler nonsymbolic and symbolic play were examined longitudinally when toddlers were 13 and 20 months old. A coding system was developed to assess mothers' play sophistication based on extant coding systems used to assess toddlers' play; the application of a common coding system to toddlers' and mothers' play permitted empirical investigation of behavioral parallels between toddler and mother. Characteristics of mother and toddler play were regularly associated at the two ages, and over time mother and toddler play sophistication changed in similar ways. For example, between 13 and 20 months, mothers and toddlers both moved toward higher levels of play, and changes in one partner's play were regularly associated with changes in the other partner's play. Nonetheless, significant changes in mothers' and toddlers' play remained after covarying partner influences. These findings indicate that individual differences and age-related changes in mother and toddler second-year play are partly mediated by matched partner play and partly motivated by processes independent of partner play.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-162
Number of pages20
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991


  • individual differences
  • mother-infant interaction
  • play
  • stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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