Parent-Child Dysfunctional Interactions and Childhood Internalizing: Examining a Transactional Relationship Across Early Childhood

  • Author / Creator
    Rorem, Devyn Christine
  • To support children in achieving healthy outcomes, it is essential to understand the child's early environment, including the caregiver-child dyad. There is a well-established relationship between parenting stress and childhood internalizing (symptoms of depression and anxiety) in the literature; however, the directionality of this relationship is still unclear. An important factor that has not been widely examined is the mechanism through which parenting stress and childhood internalizing impact each other. This study further seeks to gain a deeper understanding of the relationship by focusing on the component of parenting stress that has demonstrated specificity to childhood internalizing, parent-child dysfunctional interactions. By examining a younger age group than previous studies and using a longitudinal design and normative sample, the present study is well situated to clarify the relationship between parenting stress and childhood internalizing. A clearer understanding of risk and protective factors for both emerging childhood internalizing behaviours and parenting stress is necessary to inform the timing and type of early interventions. Additionally, this study adds to the literature by examining how parental depression, which has been linked with both parenting stress and childhood internalizing, affects the relationship. Directional associations between parent-child dysfunctional interactions and childhood internalizing across early childhood were examined using a series of autoregressive, cross-lagged panel models. Results indicated that parent-child dysfunctional interactions at age 3 significantly predicted reported childhood internalizing behaviours at age 5. For both age 3 and age 5, parental depression mediated the relationship between parent-child dysfunctional interactions and childhood internalizing. Implications of the research findings for clinicians and researchers as well as direction for future research are discussed.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2020
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Education
  • DOI
  • License
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