Mother-Child Play: Sequential Interactions and the Relation between Maternal Beliefs and Behaviors

Amy Meistein Damast, Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda, Marc H. Bornstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This investigation of mother and toddler play had 2 goals. The primary goal was to examine the types of play mothers introduce in direct response to their toddlers' play. A secondary and exploratory goal was to examine the relation between maternal knowledge about child play and actual maternal play behaviors. 50 mothers and their 21-month-old toddlers were observed at home during free play. Mother and child exploratory, nonsymbolic, and symbolic play were coded. Sequential analyses revealed that mothers adjusted their play to their children's play level by responding to their children with play that was either at the same level or at a higher level than their children's play. Furthermore, mothers who were more knowledgeable about early play development more often responded to their children's play by introducing higher level play. These findings suggest that mothers tend to play with their toddlers in ways that might promote their child's development, and that mothers with more knowledge about play development provide their children with appropriately challenging play interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1752-1766
Number of pages15
JournalChild development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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