Parent–Child Automaticity: Links to Child Coping and Behavior and Engagement in Parent Training
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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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