This study examined whether maltreated children were more likely than nonmaltreated children to develop poor-quality representations of caregivers and whether these representations predicted children's rejection by peers. A narrative task assessing representations of mothers and fathers was administered to 76 maltreated and 45 nonmaltreated boys and girls (8-12 years old). Maltreated children's representations were more negative/constricted and less positive/coherent than those of nonmaltreated children. Maladaptive representations were associated with emotion dysregulation, aggression, and peer rejection, whereas positive/coherent representations were related to prosocial behavior and peer preference. Representations mediated maltreatment's effects on peer rejection in part by undermining emotion regulation. Findings suggest that representations of caregivers serve an important regulatory function in the peer relationships of at-risk children.
|Number of pages||17|
|State||Published - May 2001|