Institute of Psychology and Pedagogy, Tyumen State University,
The high level of stress in modern society poses a need to study family factors and resources for the development of children’s defense mechanisms in the current social environment. This study investigates correlations between maternal and child psychological defense mechanisms, using interviews, a structured clinical survey, projective drawing, and a projective game. Analysis of data from 240 people (120 children and 120 mothers) revealed specifics of the formation of psychological defense mechanisms among children aged 4 to 12 years in child-mother relationships. We suggest that maternal and child defense mechanisms have some isomorphic traits, but the level and quality of isomorphism changes with each age period of the child. Certain defensive mechanisms of mother and child appear with the same frequency. The child’s gender influences the correlation between the mother’s and child’s psychological defense mechanisms. Initially, children are more likely to directly copy defense mechanisms observed from the mother’s behavior. As they grow older, they use defenses that they have learned consciously. Based on empirical data, we also found a correlation between the maturity of the maternal psychological defense mechanisms and specifics of child psychological defense mechanisms. We propose that the maturity of maternal psychological defense mechanisms has the greatest meaning for child psychological defense mechanisms at the earliest stages of ontogenesis — it provides consistency between the mother’s own psychological defense mechanisms and the psychological defense mechanisms that she teaches her child.
Keywords: psychological defense mechanisms, coping strategies, child-mother relationships, maternal teaching