The Role of Mothers' Control in Children's Mastery Orientation: A Time Frame Analysis

Elizabeth A. Moorman, Eva M. Pomerantz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Important to understanding the process by which parents' control shapes children's motivation is identifying the time frame in which it does so. To this end, mothers and their 4-year-old children were observed interacting for 15 min while working on a challenging task twice over 6 months. Mothers' control and children's mastery orientation were coded in 1-min intervals at both times. Analyses over the 6 months indicated that mothers' heightened control foreshadowed children's dampened mastery because mothers' control was stable over time. Analyses over the 15-min interactions revealed that the more controlling mothers were one minute, the less mastery oriented children were the next minute, adjusting for their earlier mastery. Moreover, when mothers began these interactions highly controlling, children's mastery was particularly likely to decrease over the 15 min. Taken together, the results suggest the effect of mothers' control on children's mastery is immediate and maintained through mothers' continued controlling practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)734-741
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • control
  • motivation
  • parenting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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