Bidirectional Associations Between Parental Warmth, Callous Unemotional Behavior, and Behavior Problems in High-Risk Preschoolers
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Research suggests that parental warmth and positive parent–child interactions predict the development of conscience and empathy. Recent studies suggest that affective dimensions of parenting, including parental warmth, are associated with fewer behavior problems among children with high levels of callous-unemotional (CU) behavior. Evidence also suggests that CU behavior confers risk for behavior problems by uniquely shaping parenting. The current study examines reciprocal associations between parental warmth, CU behavior, and behavior problems among toddlers. Data from mother-child dyads (N = 731; 49 % female) were collected from a multi-ethnic, high-risk sample at ages 2 and 3. CU behavior was assessed using a previously validated measure (Hyde et al. 2013). Models were tested using two measures of parental warmth, the first from direct observations of warmth in the home, the second coded from 5-min speech samples. Three-way cross-lagged, simultaneous effects models showed that parental warmth predicted child CU behavior, over and above associations with behavior problems. There were cross-lagged associations between directly observed parental warmth and child CU behavior, suggesting these behaviors show some malleability during toddlerhood and that parenting appears to reflect some adaptation to child behavior. The results have implications for models of early-starting behavior problems and preventative interventions for young children.
KeywordsCallous-unemotional Behavior problems Deceitful-callous Parenting warmth
Family Affective Attitudes Rating Scale
This research was supported by Grant 5R01 DA16110 from the National Institutes of Health, awarded to Dishion, Shaw, Wilson, & Gardner and a Green Templeton College PhD scholarship to Waller. We thank families and staff of the Early Steps Multisite Study. We also thank three anonymous reviewers and the editor for valuable comments on an earlier version of this article.
Conflict of interest
No conflicts declared.
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