Date of Award

Spring 2001

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy and Leadership


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.



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