Parental emotions and behaviors that contribute to continuity and change in preschool
children's externalizing problems were examined. Mothers and fathers were observed
interacting with their children, and child-rearing styles were reported. Teachers, mothers, and
children reported children's antisocial, oppositional behavior. Externalizing problems
showed strong continuity 2 and 4 years later. Proactive parenting (i.e., supportive presence, clear
instruction, and limit setting) predicted fewer behavior problems over time, after controlling for
initial problems; the converse was true for parental anger. In contrast, the hypothesized
ameliorative contribution of parents' positive emotion was not found. Parental
contributions were most influential for children whose initial problems were in the clinical range.
In particular, parental anger predicted continuation of problems over time. Paternal, as well as
maternal, influences were identified. Examination of parental emotions and inclusion of fathers is
important to research and intervention with young antisocial children.