Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 591–601 | Cite as

Parental Distress and Child Behavior Problems: Parenting Behaviors as Mediators

  • Catherine M. SannerEmail author
  • Cameron L. Neece
Original Paper


Parents of children with developmental disabilities (DD) typically report higher levels of parental stress than parents of typically developing children. While the majority of the literature addresses child behavior problems as predictors of parental stress, research has shown that the relation is bi-directional. However, very little research has examined the effects of parental stress on child behavior problems and the possible parenting factors that may explain this relation. The current study utilized data from the Mindful Awareness for Parenting Stress (MAPS) study (N = 31; % male = 67.7, mean age = 3.5, SD = .96; 81% ethic minority), and examined positive parenting behaviors as mediators in the relation between parenting distress and child behavior. Results from a multiple mediation analysis indicated that Parental Distress had a significant direct effect on total Child Behavior Problems, b = 1.11, p < .05. Additionally, Quality of Mother's Assistance was a significant mediator in the relation between Parental Distress and Child Behavior Problems, ab = .482, 95% BCa 95% CI [.022, 2.33]. Neither Level of Involvement nor Mother's Supportive Presence significantly mediated the relation between Parental Distress and Child Behavior Problems, ps > .05. Findings suggest that improving the quality of the parent/child interaction may play a key role in the relation between parenting stress and child behavior problems. The current study could help to inform future parenting interventions by emphasizing the importance of targeting quality of parent assistance type parenting behaviors for improving child behavior outcomes.


Developmental delay Parenting stress Parenting behavior Behavior problems Parent/child interaction 


Author Contributions

C.S. designed and conceptualized the current study, coded and analyzed the data, and drafted the manuscript. C.N. PI for the larger study; obtained funding and oversaw all elements of the larger study; provided feedback on the design, writing, and interpretation of the data; and contributed edits and revisions of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

This study was supported by a GRASP (Grants for Research and School Partnerships Program) grant funded by Loma Linda University.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyLoma Linda UniversityLoma LindaUSA

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