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Parental influences on executive functions in early childhood: Differential effects of harsh and sensitive parenting

  • Author / Creator
    Vrantsidis, Daphne M
  • The aim of this study was to clarify the nature of the relations between specific dimensions of parenting (sensitivity and harshness) and cool and hot components of executive functions (EFs) in preschool children. As such, this study examined the additive and interactive effects of parental sensitivity and harshness on cool and hot EFs in early childhood. I hypothesized that both sensitive and harsh parenting would be associated with cool EFs, such that more sensitive parenting would be associated with better cool EFs while harsh parenting would be associated with poorer cool EFs in early childhood. I also hypothesized sensitive and harsh parenting would interact to affect hot EFs with sensitive parenting buffering the negative effect of harsh parenting on hot EFs. Participants were 144 36-month-old children and their mothers, drawn from a prospective cohort followed longitudinally from pregnancy. At 36 months, children’s cool and hot EFs were measured using a latent variable approach (Wiebe et al., 2015). Mother-child interactions during free play, structured play, and waiting tasks were coded for maternal sensitivity and harshness. Structural regression was used to examine the additive and interactive effects of sensitive and harsh parenting on children’s cool and hot EFs. Prenatal tobacco exposure status, child sex, children’s verbal ability, and household income-to-needs ratio were included as covariates in all analyses. Harsh parenting was associated with poorer cool EFs while there was no association between sensitivity and cool EFs. Neither sensitive nor harsh parenting was significantly related to hot EFs, but there was a marginally significant interactive effect of sensitive and harsh parenting, such that for more sensitive parents, harsh parenting was related to better performance on hot EF tasks. The present study provided the first concurrent analysis of the relative contributions of sensitive and harsh parenting to children’s cool and hot EFs. Findings contribute to our understanding of how specific aspects of parenting differentially relate to the components of EFs in early childhood.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2016-06:Fall 2016
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3S17T15S
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Master's
  • Department
    • Department of Psychology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Wiebe, Sandra (Psychology)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Singhal, Anthony (Psychology)
    • Hoglund, Wendy (Psychology)
    • Rinaldi, Christina (Educational Psychology)