Beyond Compliance: Mother-Child Joint Action During a "Do" Task

Anat Zaidman-Zait*, Sheila K. Marshall, Richard A. Young, Clyde Hertzman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Much of the literature on parent-toddler interactions does not account for the lack of independence in data. This investigation used a theory and method appropriate for examining the moment-to-moment patterns of joint actions between mothers and toddlers during a "do" task. Using contextual action theory to guide a mixture of methods, we observed and described the joint goal-directed series of actions of mothers and their toddlers as well as mothers' intentions, meanings, and emotions they ascribed to their actions. Additionally, the associations between the patterns of joint mother-toddler actions and children's negative emotionality were examined. Thirty mothers and their children participated in the study. Data collection included video-recorded activity, video recall interviews, and self-report questionnaires. Quantitative and qualitative analysis of the data revealed that (a) children were mostly engaged in the task alongside with their mothers' on-going involvement; (b) mothers attributed a range of meanings to their interactions with their children; and (c) mothers' perceptions of their toddlers' dimensions of emotional negativity were associated with the organization of dyads' joint goal directed actions-both when children were engaged in the task or self-focused.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1034-1049
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2014


FundersFunder number
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research


    • Compliance
    • Mixed-method
    • Parenting
    • Temperament
    • Toddlerhood


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