Predictors of maternal teaching strategies in Puerto Rican mothers

Maribel Vargas, Fordham University


The study of mother-child interaction has been of interest to psychologists for much time; however, the experience of minority populations has remained unexamined for the most part. Thus, the purpose of this investigation was to examine maternal teaching behaviors in a group of Puerto Rican mothers. Specifically, the frequency of use of a set of teaching behaviors and the identification of individual and sociocultural factors associated with these behaviors. Data were collected in Puerto Rico and New York City on 80 mothers and their preschool children on parenting attitudes and beliefs, social support, parenting stress, and perception of child's temperament. In addition, dyads were videotaped during a 10 minute session while mothers taught their children two cognitive-perceptual tasks using the MTOT. ANOVAs indicated a main effect for place of residence on the use of inquiry, praise, and positive physical control. Correlations indicated a significant relationship of parental modernity with inquiry and praise as well as with democratic and structuring teaching styles. Maternal stress level was not associated with the teaching behaviors or styles. A positive relationship was found between social support and the use of inquiry, praise, and a democratic style. Modeling and positive physical control were associated with maternal perception of child's temperament. The mother's education was a significant predictor of a structuring teaching style. A democratic style was significantly predicted by parental modernity and social support. Additional regression analyses revealed significant predictors for the use of four specific behaviors, inquiry, praise, visual cues, and positive physical control. Further statistical analyses with the Puerto Rico and New York subgroups revealed a different pattern of predictors for each group. The findings revealed that both contextual and individual factors are related to modes of interaction in a sample of Puerto Rican mothers and their children. Further investigations with this population should assess the role of socioeconomic level and additional contextual factors on styles of mother-child interaction. Research efforts directed at the Puerto Rican population and other minority subgroups will be useful in the development of intervention programs helpful to individuals from disadvantaged populations.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Vargas, Maribel, "Predictors of maternal teaching strategies in Puerto Rican mothers" (1992). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9215357.