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Emotional Bonds with Parents, Emotion Regulation, and School-Related Behavior Problems Among Elementary School Truants

Abstract

Among juvenile status offenses, truancy represents the largest share of juvenile court caseloads. As a marker of risk, truancy is important because of its associations with school disengagement, drop-out, and developmental trajectories that include various forms of delinquency and anti-social behavior. Better understanding of the developmental circumstances and needs of truant children may point the way to more effective intervention strategies. Much accumulated research has shown strong associations between the emergence of juvenile delinquency and qualities of caregiving in parent–child relationships. Child-parent attachment in particular has been identified as an important developmental foundation of the child-parent relationship. We used a multi-informant approach to examine associations between children’s self-reported perceptions of attachment security (using the Security Scales), their emotion regulation (reported by parents on the Emotion Regulation Checklist), and school-related behavior problems (as reported by teachers with the Child Behavior Checklist), among 74 elementary school-aged truant children (mean age 9 years). Children and families were recruited through a truancy intervention program in a state in the deep South in the U.S. Data were analyzed via hierarchical multiple regression. Parents’ reports of their children’s emotion regulation predicted behavior problems as reported by teachers. Children’s own reports of their emotional bonds with parents were somewhat less predictive of emotion regulation and behavior problems. Implications for truancy intervention programs for high-risk elementary school children include more focused attention to the importance of children’s developing capacities for emotion regulation and the child-parent bond.

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Kim, H., Page, T. Emotional Bonds with Parents, Emotion Regulation, and School-Related Behavior Problems Among Elementary School Truants. J Child Fam Stud 22, 869–878 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-012-9646-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-012-9646-5

Keywords

  • Truancy
  • Emotion regulation
  • Emotional bonds