Parent–Child Automaticity: Links to Child Coping and Behavior and Engagement in Parent Training
This research investigated parent–child automaticity (i.e., automatic ways of thinking, feeling, and interacting) as it relates to child coping and behavior and caregiver engagement in a preventive parenting program, as well as program-related changes in automaticity. 610 caregivers (93 % mothers) of children ages 3–6 years (52 % boys; 49 % African American) enrolled in the Parenting our Children to Excellence (PACE) program, and completed pre- and post-intervention assessments (N = 544 at post-intervention). Daycare providers also provided reports of school coping and behavior. Parent–child automaticity predicted parent and teacher-reported child social coping and aggressive behavior. Contrary to hypotheses, parents reporting elevated parent–child automaticity attended significantly more PACE sessions. A significant time × attendance interaction indicated decreased automaticity following the PACE program. Parent–child automaticity during the preschool years is an important correlate of child behavior and coping, and may be a motivating factor for parents to attend parent training programs.
KeywordsAutomaticity Parent training Child coping Aggressive behavior
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