Adverse childhood experiences and young children’s social and emotional development: the role of maternal depression, self-efficacy, and social support

Amy E. Treat, Amanda Sheffield-Morris, Amy C. Williamson, Jennifer Hays-Grudo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and negative physical and mental health outcomes is well established (Felitti et al. [1998]. Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults: The adverse childhood experiences (ACE) study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 14(4), 245–258). While awareness of the long-term effects of experiencing childhood abuse and neglect has increased, much less is known about how ACEs impact parenting, and children’s social and emotional development. The current study has two objectives (1) to examine the relationship between ACE scores (N = 52) and children’s social and emotional problems in a sample of low-income mothers and their young children and (2) to examine maternal depression, perceived social support, and parenting self-efficacy as possible mediators of that relationship. Indirect effects were significant for self-efficacy, B =.342, 95% CI [.010,.886] and marginally significant for maternal depression mediating the relationship between ACEs and child social and emotional problems. Findings suggest that one-way mothers’ early adversity affects their children’s development is through its effects on maternal mental health and parenting confidence.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019



  • Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)
  • maternal depression
  • self-efficacy
  • social and emotional development
  • social support

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