Date of Award

Summer 2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Gerdes, Alyson

Second Advisor

Koop, Jennifer

Third Advisor

Grych, John

Abstract

The primary goal of this study was to better understand the combined influence of maternal affect, cognitions and behavior on child internalizing and externalizing behavior. Specifically, mothers and children completed a series of measures designed to assess parenting stress, parenting efficacy, parenting behavior, and child internalizing and externalizing behavior. Participants were 115 mothers and their school-aged children who participated in an outpatient neuropsychological evaluation. Results suggest that child reported maternal warmth and control were important in influencing the development of internalizing behavior in children. Additionally, maternal parenting stress, warmth and control were found to be important influences in the development of externalizing behavior in children. The findings from this study demonstrate that the affective component of parenting (i.e., parenting stress) is the most powerful indicator of child external outcomes. Specifically, how stressed parents feel about being a parent significantly impacts not only how they behave toward their children but also directly affects how their children behave. Finally, an important finding of this research is the unique perspective parents and children have over internalizing and externalizing behaviors and their perceptions of maternal parenting behavior. More specifically, this study suggests that when examining internalizing behavior in children, child perceptions of parenting are the most important consideration; however, when examining externalizing behavior, both maternal and child perceptions of parenting are important to consider. This highlights the importance of understanding both mothers' and children's perceptions of parenting behavior in order to best understand the influence this has over the development of internalizing and externalizing outcomes in children.

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