Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 25, Issue 10, pp 3124–3135 | Cite as

Parental Psychopathology Levels as a Moderator of Temperament and Oppositional Defiant Disorder Symptoms in Preschoolers

  • Zayra AntúnezEmail author
  • Nuria de la Osa
  • Roser Granero
  • Lourdes Ezpeleta
Original Paper


Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is among the most prevalent disorders in preschoolers. It has been linked to temperament, since characteristics such as elevated surgency and negative affect, as well as low levels of effortful control, contribute to the development of this disorder. Evidence also indicates that parental psychopathology can accentuate temperamental traits. Our aim was to assess whether the levels of psychopathology of mothers and fathers acts as a moderator of the relationship between temperament and ODD symptoms in preschoolers, both cross-sectionally at ages 3, 4 and 5, and longitudinally between ages 3 and 5. The sample included 550 children evaluated at ages 3, 4 and 5 through questionnaires and a semi-structured diagnostic interview with parents. Parents also answered a questionnaire about their own psychopathology. The results indicated that negative affect and effortful control are associated with higher levels of ODD symptoms in preschoolers. At child age 5, higher levels of paternal depression and anxiety increased the effect of low effortful control on ODD. High levels of negative affect and low levels of effortful control at age 3 were statistical predictors of ODD levels at age 5, and this relationship was also moderated by paternal anxiety and depression. The results have important clinical implications for the proper orientation of interventions, suggesting that interventions should integrate the paternal caregiver in the treatment.


Oppositional defiant disorder Parental psychopathology Preschool Temperament 



We would like to thank the participating families and schools.


Funding for this study was provided by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness [PSI2012-32695] and [PSI2015-63965-R], Secretaria d’Universitats i Recerca, Departament d’Economia i Coneixement de la Generalitat de Catalunya [2014 SGR 312], and CONICYT, Ministry of Education, Government of Chile. These funding sources had no role in the study design, collection, analysis or interpretation of the data, nor in writing the manuscript or deciding to submit the paper for publication. The terms of this arrangement have been reviewed and approved by the Autonomous University of Barcelona in accordance with its policy on research.


  1. Achenbach, T. M., & Rescorla, L. A. (2003). Manual for the ASEBA adult forms and profiles. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Research Center for Children, Youth, and Families.Google Scholar
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). DSM-IV Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., Text revised). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.Google Scholar
  3. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorder: DSM-5. Londres: American Psychiatric Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aviram, I., Atzaba-Poria, N., Pike, A., Meiri, G., & Yerushalmi, B. (2015). Mealtime dynamics in child feeding disorder: The role of child temperament. Parental Sense of Competence and Paternal Involvement, 40(1), 45–54.Google Scholar
  5. Bernard, S. N., Whitson, M., & Kaufman, J. (2015). The moderating effect of positive father engagement and accessibility on a school-based system of care intervention for mental health outcomes of children. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(10), 2923–2933. doi: 10.1007/s10826-014-0096-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Braza, P., Carreras, R., Muñoz, J. M., Braza, F., Azurmendi, A., Pascual-Sagastizábal, E., et al. (2013). Negative maternal and paternal parenting styles as predictors of children’s behavioral problems: Moderating effects of the child’s sex. Journal of Child and Family Studies,. doi: 10.1007/s10826-013-9893-0.Google Scholar
  7. Breaux, R. P., Harvey, E. A., & Lugo-Candelas, C. I. (2013). The role of parent psychopathology in the development of preschool children with behavior problems. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 43(5), 777–790. doi: 10.1080/15374416.2013.836451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown, G. L., McBride, B. A., Bost, K. K., & Shin, N. (2011). Parental involvement, child temperament, and parents’ work hours: Differential relations for mothers and fathers. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 32(6), 313–322. doi: 10.1016/j.appdev.2011.08.004.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Burke, J. D., Hipwell, A. E., & Loeber, R. (2010). Dimensions of oppositional defiant disorder as predictors of depression and conduct disorder in preadolescent girls. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49(5), 484–492. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2010.01.016.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Burke, J. D., Pardini, D. A., & Loeber, R. (2008). Reciprocal relationships between parenting behavior and disruptive psychopathology from childhood through adolescence. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36(5), 679–692. doi: 10.1007/s10802-008-9219-7.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. Burke, J. D., Rowe, R., & Boylan, K. (2014). Functional outcomes of child and adolescent oppositional defiant disorder symptoms in young adult men. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53(3), 264–272. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Burnette, M. L., Oshri, A., Lax, R., Richards, D., & Ragbeer, S. N. (2012). Pathways from harsh parenting to adolescent antisocial behavior: a multidomain test of gender moderation. Development and Psychopathology, 24(3), 857–870. doi: 10.1017/S0954579412000417.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Buss, A. H., & Plomin, R. (1975). A temperament theory of personality development. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  14. Chen, N., Deater-Deckard, K., & Bell, M. A. (2014). The role of temperament by family environment interactions in child maladjustment. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 42, 1251–1262. doi: 10.1007/s10802-014-9872-y.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  15. Childs, A. W., Fite, P. J., Moore, T. M., Lochman, J. E., & Pardini, D. A. (2014). Bidirectional associations between parenting behavior and child callous-unemotional traits: does parental depression moderate this link? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 42(7), 1141–1151. doi: 10.1007/s10802-014-9856-y.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Cimino, S., Cerniglia, L., & Paciello, M. (2014). Mothers with depression, anxiety or eating disorders: Outcomes on their children and the role of paternal psychological profiles. Child Psychiatry and Human Development,. doi: 10.1007/s10578-014-0462-6.Google Scholar
  17. Crawford, N. A., Schrock, M., & Woodruff-Borden, J. (2011). Child internalizing symptoms: Contributions of child temperament, maternal negative affect, and family functioning. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 42(1), 53–64. doi: 10.1007/s10578-010-0202-5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Davé, S., Sherr, L., Senior, R., & Nazareth, I. (2008). Associations between paternal depression and behaviour problems in children of 4–6 years. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 17, 306–315. doi: 10.1007/s00787-007-0672-6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Davies, P. T., Sturge-Apple, M. L., Cicchetti, D., Manning, L. G., & Vonhold, S. E. (2012). Pathways and processes of risk in associations among maternal antisocial personality symptoms, interparental aggression, and preschooler’s psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 24(3), 807–832. doi: 10.1017/S0954579412000387.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. de la Osa, N., Granero, R., Penelo, E., Domènech, J. M., & Ezpeleta, L. (2013). The short and very short forms of the children’s behavior questionnaire in a community sample of preschoolers. Assessment, 21(4), 463–476. doi: 10.1177/1073191113508809.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Derryberry, D., & Rothbart, M. K. (1997). Reactive and effortful processes in the organization of temperament. Development and Psychopathology, 9(04), 633–652. doi: 10.1017/S0954579497001375.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Dougherty, L. R., Bufferd, S. J., Carlson, G. A., Dyson, M., Olino, T. M., Durbin, C. E., & Klein, D. N. (2011). Preschoolers’ observed temperament and psychiatric disorders assessed with a parent diagnostic interview. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 40(2), 295–306. doi: 10.1080/15374416.2011.546046.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  23. Driscoll, K., & Pianta, R. C. (2011). Mothers’ and fathers’ perceptions of conflict and childhood. Journal of Early Childhood and Infant Psychology, 7, 1–24.Google Scholar
  24. Eisenberg, N., Valiente, C., Spinrad, T. L., Cumberland, A., Liew, J., Reiser, M., et al. (2009). Longitudinal relations of children’s effortful control, impulsivity, and negative emotionality to their externalizing, internalizing, and co-occurring behavior problems. Developmental Psychology, 45(4), 988–1008. doi: 10.1037/a0016213.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  25. Elgar, F. J., Mills, R. S. L., McGrath, P. J., Waschbusch, D. A., & Brownridge, D. A. (2007). Maternal and paternal depressive symptoms and child maladjustment: The mediating role of parental behavior. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 35, 943–955. doi: 10.1007/s10802-007-9145-0.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Ezpeleta, L., de la Osa, N., & Doménech, J. M. (2014a). Prevalence of DSM-IV disorders, comorbidity and impairment in 3-year-old Spanish preschoolers. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 49(1), 145–155. doi: 10.1007/s00127-013-0683-1.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Ezpeleta, L., de la Osa, N., Granero, R., Domènech, J. M., & Reich, W. (2011). The diagnostic interview of children and adolescents for parents of preschool and young children: psychometric properties in the general population. Psychiatry Research, 190(1), 137–144. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2011.04.034.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Ezpeleta, L., de la Osa, N., Granero, R., & Trepat, E. (2014b). Functional impairment associated with symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder in preschool and early school boys and girls from the general population. Anales de Psicología/Annals of Psychology, 30(2), 395–402. doi: 10.6018/analesps.30.2.148141.
  29. Flouri, E., Midouhas, E., & Narayanan, M. K. (2015). The relationship between father involvement and child problem behaviour in intact families: A 7-year cross-lagged study. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology,. doi: 10.1007/s10802-015-0077-9.Google Scholar
  30. Gardner, F., Hutchings, J., Bywater, T., & Whitaker, C. (2010). Who benefits and how does it work? Moderators and mediators of outcome in an effectiveness trial of a parenting intervention. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 39(4), 568–580. doi: 10.1080/15374416.2010.486315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gartstein, M. A., Bridgett, D. J., Young, B. N., Panksepp, J., & Power, T. (2013). Origins of effortful control: Infant and parent contributions. Infancy, 18(2), 149–183. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-7078.2012.00119.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Goelman, H., Zdaniuk, B., Boyce, W. T., Armstrong, J. M., & Essex, M. J. (2014). Maternal mental health, child care quality, and children’s behavior. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 35(4), 347–356. doi: 10.1016/j.appdev.2014.05.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Goldsmith, H. H., & Campos, J. J. (1982). Toward a theory of infant temperament. In R. N. Emde & R. J. Harmond (Eds.), The development of attachment and af$liative systems. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  34. Goodman, R. (1997). The strengths and difficulties questionnaire: A research note. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 38(5), 581–586. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.1997.tb01545.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Goodman, S. H., Rouse, M. H., Connell, A. M., Broth, M. R., Hall, C. M., & Heyward, D. (2011). Maternal depression and child psychopathology: A meta-analytic review. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 14, 1–27. doi: 10.1007/s10567-010-0080-1.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Gross, H. E., Shaw, D. S., Moilanen, K. L., & Wilson, M. N. (2008). Reciprocal models of child behavior and depressive symptoms in mothers and fathers in a sample of children at risk for early conduct problems. Journal of Family Psychology, 22, 742–751. doi: 10.1037/a0013514.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  37. Hurrell, K. E., Hudson, J. L., & Schniering, C. A. (2015). Parental reactions to children’s negative emotions: Relationships with emotion regulation in children with an anxiety disorder. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 29, 72–82. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2014.10.008.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Jaffee, S. R., Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., & Taylor, A. (2003). Life with (or without) father: The benefits of living with two biological parents depend on the father’s antisocial behavior. Child Development, 74(1), 109–126. doi: 10.1037/a0014588.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Jewell, J. D., Krohn, E. J., Scott, V. G., Carlton, M., & Meinz, E. (2008). The differential impact of mothers’ and fathers’ discipline on preschool children’s home and classroom behavior. North American Journal of Psychology, 10(1), 173–188.Google Scholar
  40. John, A., Halliburton, A., & Humphrey, J. (2012). Child–mother and child–father play interaction patterns with preschoolers. Early Child Development and Care,. doi: 10.1080/03004430.2012.711595.Google Scholar
  41. Kashdan, T. B., Jacob, R. G., Pelham, W. E., Lang, A. R., Hoza, B., Blumenthal, J. D., & Gnagy, E. M. (2004). Depression and anxiety in parents of children with ADHD and varying levels of oppositional defiant behaviors: modeling relationships with family functioning. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 33(1), 169–181. doi: 10.1207/S15374424JCCP3301_16.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Kleinbaum, D. G., Kupper, L. L., Muller, K. E., & Nizam, A. (2013). Applied Regression Analysis and Other Multivariable Methods. Pacific Grove: Duxbury Applied Press.Google Scholar
  43. Larsson, H., Viding, E., Rijsdijk, F. V., & Plomin, R. (2008). Relationships between parental negativity and childhood antisocial behavior over time: A bidirectional effects model in a longitudinal genetically informative design. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36(5), 633–645. doi: 10.1007/s10802-007-9151-2.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Lavigne, J. V., Gouze, K. R., Hopkins, J., Bryant, F. B., & LeBailly, S. A. (2012). A multi-domain model of risk factors for ODD symptoms in a community sample of 4-year-olds. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 40(5), 741–757. doi: 10.1007/s10802-011-9603-6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Lavigne, J. V., Lebailly, S. A., Hopkins, J., Gouze, K. R., & Binns, H. J. (2009). The prevalence of ADHD, ODD, depression, and anxiety in a community sample of 4-year-olds. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 38(3), 315–328. doi: 10.1080/15374410902851382.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Liang, Z., Zhang, G., Deng, H., Song, Y., & Zheng, W. (2013). A multilevel analysis of the developmental trajectory of preschoolers’ effortful control and prediction by parental parenting style. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 45(5), 556–567. doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2013.00556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lovejoy, M. C., Graczyk, P. A., O´Hare, E., & Neuman, G. (2000). Maternal depression and parenting behavior: A meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 20(5), 561–592. doi: 10.1016/S0272-7358(98)00100-7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Martel, M. M., Gremillion, M. L., & Roberts, B. (2012). Temperament and common disruptive behavior problems in preschool. Personality and Individual Differences, 53(7), 874–879. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2012.07.011.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  49. Meadows, S. O., McLanahan, S. S., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2007). Parental depression and anxiety and early childhood behavior problems across family types. Journal of Marriage and Family, 69(5), 1162–1177. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2007.00439.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Melegari, M. G., Nanni, V., Lucidi, F., Russo, P. M., Donfrancesco, R., & Cloninger, C. R. (2015). Temperamental and character profiles of preschool children with ODD, ADHD, and anxiety disorders. Comprehensive Psychiatry,. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2015.01.001.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Munkvold, L. H., Lundervold, A. J., & Manger, T. (2011). Oppositional defiant disorder-gender differences in co-occurring symptoms of mental health problems in a general population of children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 39(4), 577–587. doi: 10.1007/s10802-011-9486-6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Nicholson, J. S., Deboeck, P., Farris, J. R., Boker, S. M., & Borkowski, J. G. (2011). Maternal depressive symptomatology and child behavior: Transactional relationship with simultaneous bidirectional coupling. Developmental Psychology, 47(5), 1312–1323. doi: 10.1037/a0023912.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  53. Nigg, J. T. (2006). Temperament and developmental psychopathology. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47(3–4), 395–422. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2006.01612.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Pardini, D. A., Fite, P. J., & Burke, J. D. (2008). Bidirectional associations between parenting practices and conduct problems in boys from childhood to adolescence: the moderating effect of age and African–American ethnicity. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36(5), 647–662. doi: 10.1007/s10802-007-9162-z.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Reeb, B. T., Conger, K. J., & Wu, E. Y. (2010). Paternal depressive symptoms and adolescent functioning: The moderating effect of gender and father hostility. Fathering, 8(1), 131–142. doi: 10.3149/fth.0801.131.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  56. Reich, W., & Ezpeleta, L. (2009). Diagnostic interview for children and adolescents—version for parents of preschoolers (37 years). Unpublished rating scale, Division of Child Psychiatry, Schools of Medicine, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA.Google Scholar
  57. Rothbart, M. K., Ahadi, S. A., Hershey, K. L., & Fisher, P. (2001). Investigations of temperament at three to seven years: The children’s behavior questionnaire. Child Development, 72(5), 1394–1408. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.00355.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Rothbart, M. K., & Bates, J. E. (2006). Temperament. In N. Eisenberg, W. Damon, & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology: Social, emotional, and personality development (6th ed., Vol. 3). Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  59. Rothbart, M. K., & Posner, M. I. (2006). Temperament, attention, and developmental psychopathology. In D. Cicchetti & D. J. Cohen (Eds.), Developmental psychopathology: Developmental neuroscience (2nd ed., Vol. 2). Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  60. Sarkadi, A., Kristiansson, R., Oberklaid, F., & Bremberg, S. (2008). Fathers’ involvement and children’s developmental outcomes: A systematic review of longitudinal studies. Acta Pædiatrica, 97(2), 153–158. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2007.00572.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Stringaris, A., & Goodman, R. (2009). Mood lability and psychopathology in youth. Psychological Medicine, 39, 1237–1245. doi: 10.1017/S0033291708004662.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. Stringaris, A., Maughan, B., & Goodman, R. (2010). What’s in a disruptive disorder? Temperamental antecedents of oppositional defiant disorder: findings from the Avon longitudinal study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49(5), 474–483. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2010.01.021.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Thomas, A., & Chess, S. (1977). Temperament and development. New York: Brunner/Mazel.Google Scholar
  64. Trepat, E., Granero, R., & Ezpeleta, L. (2014). Parenting practices as mediating variables between parents’ psychopathology and oppositional defiant disorder in preschoolers. Psicothema, 26(4), 497–504. doi: 10.7334/psicothema2014.102.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. Valiente, C., Smith, C. L., Fabes, R. A., Guthrie, I. K., & Murphy, B. C. (2003). The relations of effortful control and reactive control to children’ s externalizing problems: A longitudinal assessment. Journal of Personality, 71(6), 1171–1196.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. Weaver, C. M., Shaw, D. S., Crossan, J. L., Dishion, T. J., & Wilson, M. N. (2014). Parent-child conflict and early childhood adjustment in two-parent low-income families: Parallel Developmental processes. Child Psychiatry and Human Development,. doi: 10.1007/s10578-014-0455-5.Google Scholar
  67. Weitzman, M., Rosenthal, D. G., & Liu, Y.-H. (2011). Paternal depressive symptoms and child behavioral or emotional problems in the United States. Pediatrics, 128, 1126–1134. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-3034.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. Yoo, Y. S., Adamsons, K. L., Robinson, J. L., & Sabatelli, R. M. (2013). Longitudinal influence of paternal distress on children’s representations of fathers, family cohesion, and family conflict. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(3), 591–607. doi: 10.1007/s10826-013-9870-7.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zayra Antúnez
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Nuria de la Osa
    • 3
  • Roser Granero
    • 4
  • Lourdes Ezpeleta
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Edifici BUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterra, BarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Centro de Salud Universitario (University Health Centre)Universidad Austral de ChileValdiviaChile
  3. 3.Unit of Epidemiology and Diagnosis in Developmental Psychopathology (2014 SGR 312), Department of Clinical and Health PsychologyUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Unit of Epidemiology and Diagnosis in Developmental Psychopathology (2014 SGR 312), Department of Psychobiology and Methodology of Health SciencesUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

Personalised recommendations