... researchers at the University of Missouri have found that mothers' directiveness, the extent to which they try to control the content and pace of young children's play, varies based on the children's ages and the mothers' ethnicities. In addition, the study found that the more directive the mothers were during play, the less engaged children were with them and the more negative emotion the children displayed toward their mothers.
"Children flourish when they have opportunities to make choices about what they do, particularly in play situations," said Jean Ispa, lead author of the study and professor of human development and family studies at MU. "Mothers who are highly directive do not allow that kind of choice. In our study, the children were playing with some toys, and the very directive mothers were making the decisions about how to play, what to play and how quickly to play."
For example, during play with her child, a highly directive mother might make her toddler put the plastic cow in the toy barn through the barn's door instead of through its window. If a child is playing with a pretend kitchen set, the mom might not let the child touch the fake burners on the stove. Mothers often think they are helping their children by correcting them, but they are limiting the children's creativity and possibly making their children enjoy being with them less, Ispa said.
To benefit their children's development, mothers should show affection to their children while supporting their play and being careful to limit the extent to which they dictate exactly how their children should play, Ispa said. [emphasis mine]