Assessment of parent and child behaviors in preschool children

Sheila Kathleen Dunn Johnson, Marquette University


While there is a significant body of research showing that harsh parenting practices contribute to aggressive behavior in children, and that parent-child interactions occur in a bi-directional manner, there is limited research on the early experiences that may lead to child aggressive behavior. This study's goal was to investigate mother-child interactions and determine whether differences exist in reported parent behavior toward children with normal behavior and those already identified by teachers, and by their parents, as having externalizing behavior. A total of 60 mothers of young children were selected for this study. Teachers were asked to fill out the Sutter-Eyberg Student Behavior Inventory to establish child entry criteria. Thirty families had children with behavior problems, and thirty had children with normal behavior. Children were in the age range of two years six months and five years three months, and were also matched for race and gender. Most families were white, middle and working class families living within the suburbs of a large Midwestern urban area. Data was collected at the family homes, and at the school site attended by the child. Parents of qualifying children were asked to complete the Parent Behavior Checklist, Parenting Stress Index, Behavior Screening Questionnaire, Brief Anger-Aggression Questionnaire and Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory. Videotaping of mother-child interactions within a structured play setting also was completed. A multiple analysis of covariance was used to analyze the data with family income as the covariate. Results indicated that mothers of children with behavior problems reported increased levels of corporal and verbal punishment combined with more frequent and intense behavior problems than mothers of children with normal behavior. In addition to increased levels of anger, these mothers also reported greater levels of stress relative to managing their children. When videotaped, mothers of problem behavior children employed greater numbers of commands, and their children displayed greater instances of noncompliant behavior. The results were discussed in terms of the importance of early intervention for these families.

Recommended Citation

Johnson, Sheila Kathleen Dunn, "Assessment of parent and child behaviors in preschool children" (2001). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI3049930.