Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Grych, John

Second Advisor

Gerdes, Alyson

Third Advisor

Kaugars, Astrida


The present study examined the association between specific parenting practices and the development of resilience in preschoolers from high-risk families. The current study used a multi-method, multi-informant design to identify parenting behaviors associated with positive adjustment and well-being in preschoolers exposed to adversity. Families were recruited from Head Start programs and 124 childcaregiver dyads agreed to participate. Child participants (51% male) from grades K3 through K5 ranged from 3-6 years of age (M = 4), while caregivers (85.5% female) were between the ages of 19 and 69 years (M = 32). Participants were predominately Black or African American. Resilience was assessed using caregiver and teacher reports of preschoolers’ level adjustment in multiple domains of functioning, including effective emotion regulation skills, social competence with peers, school readiness, and low levels of internalizing and externalizing behaviors. Self-report and observational measures were used to identify parenting behaviors, including parental warmth, emotion coaching, emotional validation, and emotional invalidation. Together, emotion coaching, validating, and invalidating parenting behaviors accounted for a significant variance in resilience after accounting for parental warmth, with emotion coaching uniquely predicting resilience. Additionally, caregivers’ emotion coaching behavior significantly predicted individual domains of resilience, including higher functioning in the domains of emotion regulation, social competence, and school readiness. Findings also demonstrated that parental warmth predicted greater levels of resilience when caregivers engaged in higher levels of emotional validation and emotion coaching behaviors. These results highlight the importance of caregivers from high-risk families being taught specific validating and emotion coaching behaviors to promote greater resilience in their children.