Advertisement

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 71–81 | Cite as

Child Effortful Control as a Mediator of Parenting Practices on Externalizing Behavior: Evidence for a Sex-Differentiated Pathway across the Transition from Preschool to School

  • Hyein Chang
  • Sheryl L. Olson
  • Arnold J. Sameroff
  • Holly R. Sexton
Article

Abstract

An explanatory model for children’s development of disruptive behavior across the transition from preschool to school was tested. It was hypothesized that child effortful control would mediate the effects of parenting on children’s externalizing behavior and that child sex would moderate these relations. Participants were 241 children (123 boys) and their parents and teachers. Three dimensions of parenting, warm responsiveness, induction, and corporal punishment, were assessed via maternal report when children were 3 years old. Child effortful control at age 3 was measured using laboratory tasks and a mother-report questionnaire. Mothers and teachers contributed ratings of child externalizing behavior at age 6. Results showed that the hypothesized model fit the data well and that the pattern of associations between constructs differed for boys and girls. For boys, parental warm responsiveness and corporal punishment had significant indirect effects on children’s externalizing behavior three years later, mediated by child effortful control. Such relations were not observed for girls. These findings support a sex-differentiated pathway to externalizing behavior across the transition from preschool to school.

Keywords

Corporal punishment Maternal warmth Proactive discipline Effortful control Externalizing behavior problems Temperament Preschool Sex differences 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (RO1MH57489) to Sheryl Olson and Arnold Sameroff. Support for Holly R. Sexton was provided by the Center for the Analysis of the Pathway from Childhood to Adulthood, funded by the National Science Foundation (Grant 0322356). We are very grateful to the children, parents, teachers, and preschool administrators who participated, and to many individuals who gave us invaluable help with data collection and coding, especially Gail Benninghoff, Meribeth Gandy Pezda, Lisa Alvarez, David Kerr, Nestor Lopez-Duran, Erika Lunkenheimer, Lindsey Combs-Ronto, and Jennifer LaBounty. We also thank the administrators of the University of Michigan Children’s Center for their generous assistance.

References

  1. Achenbach, T. M. (1992). Manual for the Child Behavior Checklist/2-3 and 1992 Profile. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Department of Psychiatry.Google Scholar
  2. Achenbach, T. M. (2001). The manual for the ASEBA school-age forms & profiles. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Department of Psychiatry.Google Scholar
  3. Ahadi, S. A., Rothbart, M. K., & Ye, R. M. (1993). Child temperament in the US and China: Similarities and differences. European Journal of Personality, 7, 359–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arbuckle, J. L. (1996). Full information estimation in the presence of incomplete data. In G. A. Marcoulides & R. E. Schumacker (Eds.), Advanced structural equation modeling (pp. 243–277). Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  5. Bandura, A., & Walters, R. H. (1959). Adolescent aggression. NY: Ronald.Google Scholar
  6. Bollen, K. A. (1987). Total, direct, and indirect effects in structural equation models. Sociological Methodology, 17, 37–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bollen, K. A. (1989). Structural equations with latent variables. Oxford: Wiley.Google Scholar
  8. Broidy, L. M., Nagin, D. S., Tremblay, R. E., Bates, J. E., Brame, B., Dodge, K. A., et al. (2003). Developmental trajectories of childhood disruptive behaviors and adolescent delinquency: A six-site, cross-national study. Developmental Psychology, 39, 222–245.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Campbell, S. B. (2002). Behavior problems in preschool children: Clinical and developmental issues (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  10. Campbell, S. B., Shaw, D. S., & Gilliom, M. (2000). Early externalizing behavior problems: Toddlers and preschoolers at risk for later maladjustment. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 467–488.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Card, N., Stucky, B., Sawalani, G., & Little, T. (2008). Direct and indirect aggression during childhood and adolescence: A meta-analytic review of gender differences, intercorrelations, and relations to maladjustment. Child Development, 79, 1185–1229.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Caspi, A., Moffitt, T. E., Morgan, J., Rutter, M., Taylor, A., Arseneault, L., et al. (2004). Maternal expressed emotion predicts children’s antisocial behavior: Using MZ-twin differences to identify environmental effects on behavioral adjustment. Developmental Psychology, 40, 149–161.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Combs-Ronto, L. A., Olson, S. L., Lunkenheimer, E. S., & Sameroff, A. J. (2009). Interactions between maternal parenting and children’s early disruptive behavior: Bidirectional Associations across the transition from preschool to school entry. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 37, 1151–1153.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Connell, A., Bullock, B., Dishion, T. J., Shaw, D., Wilson, M., & Gardner, F. (2008). Family intervention effects on co-occuring behavior and emotional problems in early childhood: A latent transition analysis approach. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36, 1211–1225.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Crick, N. R., & Zahn-Waxler, C. (2003). The development of psychopathology in females and males: Current progress and future challenges. Development and Psychopathology, 15, 719–742.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Cunningham, J. N., Kliewer, W., & Garner, P. W. (2009). Emotion socialization, child emotion understanding and regulation, and adjustment in urban African American families: Differential associations across child gender. Development and Psychopathology, 21, 261–283.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Deater-Deckard, K., & Dodge, K. A. (1997). Externalizing behavior problems and discipline revisited: Nonlinear effects and variation by culture, context, and gender. Psychological Inquiry, 8, 161–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Denham, S. A., Workman, E., Cole, P. M., Weissbrod, C., Kendziora, K. T., & Zahn-Waxler, C. (2000). Prediction of externalizing behavior problems from early to middle childhood: The role of parental socialization and emotion expression. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 23–45.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Dix, T. (1991). The affective organization of parenting: Adaptive and maladaptive processes. Psychological Bulletin, 110, 3–25.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., & Bates, J. E. (1994). Socialization mediators of the relation between socioeconomic status and child conduct problems. Child Development: Special Issue: Children and Poverty, 65, 649–665.Google Scholar
  21. Eisenberg, N., Gershoff, E. T., Fabes, R. A., Shepard, S. A., Cumberland, A. J., Losoya, S. H., et al. (2001). Mothers’ emotional expressivity and children’s behavior problems and social competence: Mediation through children’s regulation. Developmental Psychology, 37, 475–490.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Eisenberg, N., Sadovsky, A., Spinrad, T. L., Fabes, R. A., Losoya, S. H., Valiente, C., et al. (2005). The relations of problem behavior status to children’s negative emotionality, effortful control, and impulsivity: Concurrent relations and prediction of change. Developmental Psychology, 41, 193–211.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Enders, C. K., & Bandalos, D. L. (2001). The relative performance of full information maximum likelihood estimation for missing data in structural equation models. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 8, 430–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gardner, F., Shaw, D. S., Dishion, T. J., Burton, J., & Supplee, L. (2007). Randomized prevention trial for early conduct problems: Effects on proactive parenting and links to toddler disruptive behavior. Journal of Family Psychology, 21, 398–406.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Gershoff, E. T. (2002). Corporal punishment by parents and associated child behaviors and experiences: A meta-analytic and theoretical review. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 539–579.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Hill, A. L., Degnan, K. A., Calkins, S. D., & Keane, S. P. (2006). Profiles of externalizing behavior problems for boys and girls across preschool: The roles of emotion regulation and inattention. Developmental Psychology, 42, 913–928.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Hinshaw, S. P. (2002). Process, mechanism, and explanation related to externalizing behavior problems. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 30, 431–445.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Hoffman, M. L. (2000). Empathy and moral development: Implications for caring and justice. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Hollingshead, A. A. (1975). Four-factor index of social status, Unpublished manuscript. New Haven: Yale University.Google Scholar
  30. Kagan, J., Snidman, N., McManis, M., Woodward, S., & Hardway, C. (2002). One measure, one meaning: Multiple measures, clearer meaning. Development and Psychopathology, 14, 463–475.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Keenan, K., & Shaw, D. S. (1997). Developmental and social influences on youg girls’ early problem behavior. Psychological Bulletin, 121, 95–113.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Keenan, K., & Shaw, D. S. (2003). Starting at the beginning: Identifying etiological factors for antisocial behavior in the first years of life. In B. B. Lahey, T. E. Moffitt, & A. Caspi (Eds.), The causes of conduct disorder and serious delinquency (pp. 153–181). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  33. Keenan, K., & Wakschlag, L. S. (2004). Are oppositional defiant and conduct disorder symptoms normative behavior in preschoolers? A comparison of referred and nonreferred children. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161, 356–358.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Kerr, D. C. R., Lunkenheimer, E. S., & Olson, S. (2007). Assessment of child problem behaviors by multiple informants: A longitudinal study from preschool to school entry. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48, 967–975.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Kline, R. B. (2005). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling (2nd ed.). New York: Guildford.Google Scholar
  36. Kochanska, G., & Knaack, A. (2003). Effortful control as a personality characteristic of young children: Antecedents, correlates, and consequences. Journal of Personality, 71, 1087–1112.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Kochanska, G., Murray, K., & Coy, K. (1997). Inhibitory control as a contributor to conscience in childhood: From toddler to early school age. Child Development, 68, 263–277.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Kochanska, G., Murray, K. T., & Harlan, E. T. (2000). Effortful control in early childhood: Continuity and change, antecedents, and implications for social development. Developmental Psychology, 36, 220–232.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Kochanska, G., Murray, K. T., Jacques, T. Y., Koenig, A. L., & Vandegeest, K. (1996). Inhibitory control in young children and its role in emerging internalization. Child Development, 67, 490–507.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Larzelere, R. E., & Kuhn, B. R. (2005). Comparing child outcomes of physical punishment and alternative disciplinary tactics: A meta-analysis. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 8, 1–37.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Lengua, L. J., Honorado, E., & Bush, N. R. (2007). Contextual risk and parenting as predictors of effortful control and social competence in preschool children. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 28, 40–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. McDonald, R. P., & Ho, M. H. R. (2002). Principles and practice in reporting structural equation analyses. Psychological Methods, 7, 64–82.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. McKee, L. G., Colletti, C. J. M., Rakow, A., Jones, D. J., & Forehand, R. L. (2008). Parenting and child externalizing behaviors: Are associations specific or diffuse? Aggression and Violent Behavior, 13, 201–215.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Mulvaney, M. K., & Mebert, C. J. (2007). Parental corporal punishment predicts behavior problems in early childhood. Journal of Family Psychology, 21, 389–397.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (2007). Mplus User’s Guide. (5th Ed.) Los Angeles, CA; Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
  46. NICHD Early Child Care Research Network (2004). Trajectories of physical aggression from toddlerhood to middle childhood: Predictors, correlates, and outcomes. Monographs for the Society for Research in Child Development, 69 (No. 4, Serial No. 278).Google Scholar
  47. Olson, S. L., & Sameroff, A. J. (1997). Social risk and self-regulation problems in early childhood. National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda: MD.Google Scholar
  48. Olson, S. L., & Lunkenheimer, E. S. (2009). Expanding concepts of self-regulation to social relationships: Transactional processes in the development of early behavioral adjustment. In A. J. Sameroff (Ed.), Transactional Processes in Development: How Children and Contexts Shape Each Other (pp. 55–76). Washington: APA.Google Scholar
  49. Olson, S. L., Sameroff, A. J., Kerr, D. C. R., Lopez, N. L., & Wellman, H. M. (2005). Developmental foundations of externalizing problems in young children: The role of effortful control. Development and Psychopathology, 17, 25–45.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Olson, S. L., Sameroff, A. J., Lunkenheimer, E. S., & Kerr, D. C. R. (2009). Self-regulatory processes in early behavioral adjustment: The preschool to school transition. In S. L. Olson & A. J. Sameroff (Eds.), Regulatory Processes in the Development of Behavior Problems: Biological, Behavioral, and Social-Ecological Interactions (pp. 144–185). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Posner, M. I., & Rothbart, M. K. (2000). Developing mechanisms of self-regulation. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 427–441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Power, T. G. (2004). Stress and coping in childhood: The parents’ role. Parenting: Science and Practice, 4, 271–317.Google Scholar
  53. Power, T. G., Kobayashi-Winata, H., & Kelley, M. L. (1992). Childrearing patterns in Japan and the United States: A cluster analytic study. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 15, 185–205.Google Scholar
  54. Rothbart, M. K. (1989). Temperament and development. In G. A. Kohnstamm, J. E. Bates, & M. K. Rothbart (Eds.), Temperament in childhood (pp. 187–247). NY: Wiley.Google Scholar
  55. Rothbart, M. K., & Bates, J. E. (2006). Temperament. In W. Damon., R. Lerner, and N. Eisenberg (Eds.), Social, emotional, and personality development: Vol. 3. Handbook of child psychology (6th ed., pp. 66–166). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  56. Sameroff, A. J. (Ed.). (2009). The Transactional Model of Development: How Children and Contexts Shape Each Other. Washington: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  57. Scaramella, L. V., & Leve, L. D. (2004). Clarifying parent-child reciprocities during early childhood: The early childhood coercion model. Clinical child and Family Psychology Review, 7, 89–107.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Spinrad, T., Stifter, C., Donelan-McCall, N., & Turner, L. (2004). Mothers' regulation strategies in response to toddlers' affect: Links to later emotion self-regulation. Social Development, 13, 40–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Valiente, C., Eisenberg, N., Spinrad, T. L., Cumberland, A., Losoya, S. H., Reiser, M., et al. (2006). Relations among mothers’ expressivity, children’s effortful control and their problem behaviors: A four-year longitudinal study. Journal of Emotion, 6, 459–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Zahn-Waxler, C., Crick, N. R., Shirtcliff, E. A., & Woods, K. E. (2006). The origins and development of psychopathology in females and males. In D. Cicchetti & D. J. Cohen (Eds.), Developmental psychopathology, Vol 1: Theory and method (2nd ed., pp. 76–138). Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  61. Zhou, Q., Eisenberg, N., Wang, Y., & Reiser, M. (2004). Chinese children’s effortful control and dispositional anger/frustration: Relations to parenting styles and children’s social functioning. Developmental Psychology, 40, 352–366.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hyein Chang
    • 1
    • 4
  • Sheryl L. Olson
    • 2
  • Arnold J. Sameroff
    • 2
  • Holly R. Sexton
    • 3
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychology and Center for Human Growth and DevelopmentUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.The Institute of Social ResearchUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  5. 5.Department of Human EcologyUniversity of TexasAustinUSA

Personalised recommendations