Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 251–263 | Cite as

Predicting Change in Parenting Stress Across Early Childhood: Child and Maternal Factors

  • Amanda P. WillifordEmail author
  • Susan D. CalkinsEmail author
  • Susan P. Keane
Original Paper


This study examined maternal parenting stress in a sample of 430 boys and girls including those at risk for externalizing behavior problems. Children and their mothers were assessed when the children were ages 2, 4, and 5. Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) was used to examine stability of parenting stress across early childhood and to examine child and maternal factors predicting parenting stress at age 2 and changes in parenting stress across time. Results indicated that single parenthood, maternal psychopathology, child anger proneness, and child emotion dysregulation predicted 2-year parenting stress. Child externalizing behaviors predicted initial status and changes across time in parenting stress. Stability of parenting stress was dependent upon child externalizing problems, as well as interactions between child externalizing problems and gender, and child externalizing problems and emotion regulation. Results are discussed in the context of mechanisms by which parenting stress may influence the development of child externalizing behaviors.


Parenting stress Externalizing behavior Emotion regulation Hierarchical linear modeling Early childhood 



This research was supported by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) awards (MH 55625 and MH 58144) to the second author and an NIMH award to the second and third authors (MH 55584). We thank the parents and children who have repeatedly given their time and effort to participate in this research. Additionally, we are grateful to the entire RIGHT Track staff for their help in data collection, entry, checking, coding etc.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA

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