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The Boston University Twin Project (BUTP) uses a multimethod, longitudinal approach to study the role of genetic and environmental factors on the development of child temperament and related behaviors in early childhood. There are two phases in this project. The first, described in the previous Twin Research and Human Genetics special issue on twin registries, focused on activity level and comprised over 300 twin pairs assessed in the home and laboratory at ages 2 and 3. In this article, we describe subject recruitment, sample characteristics, and study procedures and measures of the second phase of the BUTP. This recent study focuses more broadly on the development of multiple temperament dimensions and explores associations between temperament trajectories, parenting and child adjustment in a new cohort of approximately 300 twin pairs assessed at 3, 4 and 5 years of age.
Dishion and Patterson's work on the unique role of fathers in the coercive family process showed that fathers' coercion explained twice the variance of mothers' in predicting children's antisocial behavior and how treatment and prevention of coercion and promotion of prosocial parenting can mitigate children's problem behaviors. Using these ideas, we employed a sample of 426 divorced or separated fathers randomly assigned to Fathering Through Change (FTC), an interactive online behavioral parent training program or to a waitlist control. Participating fathers had been separated or divorced within the past 24 months with children ages 4 to 12 years. We tested an intent to treat (ITT) mediation hypothesis positing that intervention-induced changes in child problem behaviors would be mediated by changes in fathers' coercive parenting. We also tested complier average causal effects (CACE) models to estimate intervention effects, accounting for compliers and noncompliers in the treatment group and would-be compliers in the controls. Mediation was supported. ITT analyses showed the FTC obtained a small direct effect on father-reported pre–post changes in child adjustment problems (d = .20), a medium effect on pre–post changes in fathers' coercive parenting (d = .61), and a moderate indirect effect to changes in child adjustment (d = .30). Larger effects were observed in CACE analyses.
This study examined whether the interaction between parenting and inhibitory control predicts hyperactivity-impulsivity and inattention in 195 children. Observation data of positive parenting were collected at 4 years, and mother reports of coercive parenting at 5 years, inhibitory control at 6 years, and hyperactivity-impulsivity/inattention at 7 years were obtained. The common and unique variance of hyperactivity-impulsivity and inattention symptoms were examined as outcomes using a bifactor model. Results indicated that positive parenting practices predicted lower levels of hyperactivity-impulsivity/inattention behaviors at age 7 only when children's inhibitory control was high. These results support the vantage sensitivity model, which posits that some individuals show an increased sensitivity to positive experiences exclusively, and support the appropriateness of a targeted prevention approach in early childhood.
This study evaluated the efficacy of a family-centered preventive intervention, the Family Check-Up (FCU), delivered as an online, eHealth model to middle school families. To increase accessibility of family-centered prevention in schools, we adapted the evidence-based FCU to an online format, with the goal of providing a model of service delivery that is feasible, given limited staffing and resources in many schools. Building on prior research, we randomly assigned participants to waitlist control (n = 105), FCU Online as a web-based intervention (n = 109), and FCU Online with coaching support (n = 108). We tested the effects of the intervention on multiple outcomes, including parental self-efficacy, child self-regulation, and child behavior, in this registered clinical trial (NCT03060291). Families engaged in the intervention at a high rate (72% completed the FCU assessment) and completed 3-month posttest assessments with good retention (94% retained). Random assignment to the FCU Online with coaching support was associated with reduced emotional problems for children (p = .003, d = −0.32) and improved parental confidence and self-efficacy (p = .018, d = 0.25) when compared with waitlist controls. Risk moderated effects: at-risk youth showed stronger effects than did those with minimal risk. The results have implications for online delivery of family-centered interventions in schools.
This study investigates suicide risk in late childhood and early adolescence in relation to a family-centered intervention, the Family Check-Up, for problem behavior delivered in early childhood. At age 2, 731 low-income families receiving nutritional services from Women, Infants, and Children programs were randomized to the Family Check-Up intervention or to a control group. Trend-level main effects were observed on endorsement of suicide risk by parents or teachers from ages 7.5 to 14, with higher rates of suicide risk endorsement in youth in the control versus intervention condition. A significant indirect effect of intervention was also observed, with treatment-related improvements in inhibitory control across childhood predicting reductions in suicide-related risk both at age 10.5, assessed via diagnostic interviews with parents and youth, and at age 14, assessed via parent and teacher reports. Results add to the emerging body of work demonstrating long-term reductions in suicide risk related to family-focused preventive interventions, and highlight improvements in youth self-regulatory skills as an important mechanism of such reductions in risk.
Antipoverty efforts must begin early because abundant evidence demonstrates that experiences during the first five years of life lay a foundation for future learning and the acquisition of skills. Public investments can help foster early childhood development, but these efforts must begin early and must involve both parents and children. This chapter describes the patterns of convergence and divergence in state approaches to supporting early childhood development. For the prenatal period until age three, the federal government is the primary source of funds, and there is fairly limited variation in how this money is spent across the states. For the period from age three until entrance to kindergarten, the federal government and states largely share the cost of supporting early childhood development, leading to significant differences among the states, particularly in access to preschool for three- and four-year-olds. This chapter explores these funding differences, emphasizing the political economy of state choices and noting that, perhaps surprisingly, some conservative-leaning states, not known for generous social welfare spending, are making a substantial effort to invest in early childhood education, especially for four-year-olds. The chapter closes with insights for both advocates and scholars.
Foster and adoptive parents often face challenges while taking care of children who, due to their adverse early life experiences, are at risk of developing insecure attachment relationships, behavior problems, and stress dysregulation. Several intervention programs have been developed to help foster and adoptive parents to overcome these challenges. In the current study, a series of eight meta-analyses were performed to examine the effectiveness of these intervention programs on four parent outcomes (sensitive parenting, k = 11, N = 684; dysfunctional discipline, k = 4, N = 239; parenting knowledge and attitudes, k = 7, N = 535; parenting stress, k = 18, N = 1,306), three child outcomes (attachment security, k = 6, N = 395; behavior problems, k = 33, N = 2,661; diurnal cortisol levels, k = 3, N = 261), and placement disruption (k = 7, N = 1,100). Results show positive effects for the four parent outcomes and child behavior problems, but not for attachment security, child diurnal cortisol levels, or placement disruption. Indirect effects on child outcomes may be delayed, and therefore long-term follow-up studies are needed to examine the effects of parenting interventions on children.
This randomized controlled trial investigated the efficacy of Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up (ABC; Dozier, Bick, & Bernard, 2011) in reducing disrupted parenting behavior (affective communication errors, role/boundary confusion, fearful/disoriented, intrusive/negativity, and withdrawal) and its association with disorganized attachment. Participants were 105 mother–child dyads randomized to receive either ABC or a control intervention (a 10-session home-visiting intervention focused on improving children's cognitive abilities, gross and fine motor abilities, and language development). At the time of study enrollment, mothers were approximately 26.7 years old (SD = 7.8) and predominantly Black or African American (73.9%). At the first follow-up visit, children were approximately 20.7 months old (SD = 6.3) and most were identified as Black or African American (61.9%). Fifty-two percent of children were male (n = 55). Assessments of disrupted parenting behavior and child attachment quality were assessed approximately 7 months postintervention (SD = 5.8). A one-way analysis of variance revealed that parents who received ABC demonstrated lower levels of parental withdrawal than parents who received the control condition. A structural equation model revealed a significant indirect effect of intervention group on attachment quality through lower levels of parental withdrawal. Results add to the efficacy of the ABC intervention and identified parental withdrawal as a mediator of change.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) sustained in childhood is associated with poor social outcomes. This study investigated the role of theory of mind (ToM) as a mediator of the relation between TBI and peer rejection/victimization and reciprocated friendships, as well as the moderating effect of parental nurturance on those relationships.
Participants were children of 8–13 years old (M = 10.45, SD = 1.47), including 13 with severe TBI, 39 with complicated mild/moderate TBI, and 32 children with orthopedic injuries. Data on peer rejection/victimization and friendship were collected in school classrooms using the Extended Class Play and friendship nominations. Parents rated parental nurturance using the Child-Rearing Practices Report. Finally, ToM was measured based on children’s average performance across three tasks measuring different aspects of ToM.
Severe TBI was associated with poorer ToM, greater peer rejection/victimization, and fewer reciprocated friendships. ToM mediated the relation between severe TBI and peer rejection/victimization (i.e., severe TBI predicted poorer ToM, which in turn predicted greater rejection/victimization). Parental nurturance significantly moderated this relation, such that the mediating effect of ToM was significant only at low and average levels of parental nurturance, for both severe and complicated mild/moderate TBI groups. Neither the mediating effect of ToM nor the moderating effect of parental nurturance was significant for reciprocated friendships.
High parental nurturance may mitigate the negative effects of ToM deficits on risk of peer rejection/victimization among children with TBI. Interventions designed to increase parental nurturance or ToM may promote better social outcomes among children with TBI.
The aims of this study were to explore parents’ stress levels and negative feelings after premature births and to identify the risk factors related to parents’ stress and negative feelings during their children’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) stay.
Preterm birth is a multi-problematic event that may put the babies in danger for both their medical and neurophysiological conditions and could have a negative impact on both the mother–father relationship and the parent–child interactions.
The study involved 43 mothers and 38 fathers of preterm infants. All participants filled out the Parental Stressor Scale: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the Profile of Mood States.
The results revealed significant differences between mothers’ and fathers’ responses to preterm births in terms of both stress and negative feelings. We found that, for mothers, their own young age and the baby’s need for respiratory support were significant predictors of stress; for fathers, their own young age and the baby’s lower gestational age and worse condition at birth were significant predictors of stress and negative feelings. The NICU may be a stressful place both for mothers and fathers. Identifying which mothers and fathers are at risk immediately after their children are born could help to direct specific interventions that can reduce these parents’ stress and prevent them from negative feelings.
In December 2017, the House of Commons Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee put out a call for submissions to an Inquiry that would consider the evidence-base for early intervention policies, with a particular focus on ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’ or ACEs. This article analyses those submissions and the transcripts of the Inquiry’s oral sessions in the belief that they constitute a useful window through which to explore the types of claims being made in ACEs discourse. Our aim is to assess whether the ACEs phenomenon represents a continuity with what has been termed the ‘first three years movement’ (Thornton, 2011a, 2011b) – social policy and philanthropic activism which focuses on the earliest years of life in the name of preventing social problems ‘down the line’. In particular, we consider constructions of parents as determinate of these social problems through their influence on their children and the ways in which these are gendered in new ways.
In this paper I develop a race-centered, intersectional critique of concerted cultivation. First developed by Annette Lareau in Unequal Childhoods to describe the dominant middle-class cultural style of parenting, this powerful concept continues to shape scholarship on parenting and the social reproduction of social inequality through culture and class. I critique and reconstruct this concept based upon: 1) Existing research on racial identity and racial socialization, and racialized parenting techniques, and 2) Alternative readings of selected ethnographic material presented in Unequal Childhoods. First, I argue that concerted cultivation is a racialized parenting practice and that families negotiate and navigate a complex race- and-class-based social context of childrearing. Second, I present a re-reading of excerpts from Unequal Childhoods to show how families of color, and in particular Black families, cultivate racial knowledge and skills in their children. Third, I make a case for the larger sociological usefulness of a layered race and class analysis of parenting culture, and argue that such a framework adds more depth to core arguments made by Lareau. In the last section, I discuss the social tensions that exist within concerted cultivation and intensive parenting culture. I reflect on possible implications for normative parenting culture that matches well with neoliberal market rationality, exists within racial capitalism, but at the same time connects to anti-racist socialization and rejection of hegemonic cultural ideologies.
We examined time-ordered associations between children's compliance behavior and maternal respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) in a sample of 127 child-maltreating (physical abuse, physical neglect, emotional abuse) and 94 non-maltreating mothers and their preschool-aged children. Child prosocial and aversive compliance behaviors and maternal RSA were continuously collected during a joint challenge task. Child behavior and mother RSA were longitudinally nested within-person and subjected to multilevel modeling (MLM), with between-person child maltreatment subtype and level of inconsistent parenting modeled as moderators. Both child maltreatment type and inconsistent parenting moderated the effects of child compliance on maternal RSA. Increases in children's prosocial compliance behaviors led to decreasing RSA in physically abusive mothers 30s later (i.e., increasing arousal), but predicted increases in non-maltreating mothers’ RSA (i.e., increasing calm). Inconsistent parenting (vacillating between autonomy-support and strict control) also moderated the effects of children's compliance behavior on maternal physiology, weakening the effects of child prosocial compliance on subsequent maternal RSA. These findings highlight variations in mothers’ physiological sensitivity to their children's prosocial behavior that may play a role in the development of coercive cycles, and underscore the need to consider individual differences in parents’ physiological sensitivity to their children to effectively tailor interventions across the spectrum of risk.
We developed the Long-term Early Development Research (LEADER) project to investigate the development of children with CHD and/or after cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Both populations are at risk for delays in motor, cognitive, and language development. However, few studies to date have investigated the longitudinal development in these children.
To establish a clinical research unit, we planned three studies: a cross-sectional study in children after cardiopulmonary resuscitation (LEADER-REA Pilot Study), a longitudinal study in children after cardiopulmonary resuscitation, with a focus on evaluating various biomarkers as predictors for developmental outcome (LEADER-CPR study), and a longitudinal study in children with ventricular septal defect, tetralogy of Fallot, or transposition of the great arteries after cardiac surgery (LEADER-CHD study).
Implementation of all three LEADER studies was successful and study protocols were conducted as planned. Findings from the LEADER-REA Pilot study have been recently published and data collection for both prospective trials is ongoing. Descriptive analysis of the first 20 assessments of the LEADER-CHD study showed no severe deficits in overall cognitive, motor, and language developments in the children.
Children with CHD and/or after cardiopulmonary resuscitation are at risk for developmental delay. Therefore, a detailed developmental assessment is necessary as a pre-requisite for individual developmental support. Our LEADER project has been shown to be feasible in a clinical setting and is the first step towards the establishment of a clinical research unit in our clinic with a focus on longitudinal research.
Parenting interventions have important consequences for the wellbeing and emotional competences of parents and their children. Technology provides an opportunity with advantages for psychological intervention. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis is to analyze the characteristics and effectiveness of technology-based interventions for parents to promote children's physical health or psychological issues.
We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis for articles about parenting skills for prevention or treatment of children's physical or psychological concerns using technology. We explore the aim of the intervention with parents, kind of problem with children, intervention model, instruments, methodological quality, and risk of bias. A random-effects meta-analysis was conducted.
Twenty-four studies were included in the systematic review and a meta-analysis of 22 studies was performed to find out the effects of intervention depending on the kind of problem, intervention model, follow-up, type of intervention, type of control condition, and type of outcome data. Results show the usefulness of technology-based therapy for parenting interventions with moderate effect sizes for intervention groups with statistically significant differences from control groups.
Technology-based parenting programs have positive effects on parenting and emotional wellbeing of parents and children. Attendance and participation level in technology-based treatment increase compared with traditional parenting intervention.
The principal aim of this study was to develop, pilot and evaluate an intervention intended to support the development of resilience and self-efficacy in parents of children with disabilities or complex health needs.
Previous research has found that families often experience physical, social and emotional stress in the context of living with and caring for their disabled child. The literature indicates that a key factor in determining how well the parents of these children cope with their situation may be how resilient and self-efficacious they are.
A total of 16 parents of children with complex needs and disabilities were engaged in a series of guided conversations delivered during six contact visits with nurse co-researchers (community children’s nurses who had received an intensive three-day preparation programme). The conversations, which were supported with additional material that was designed specifically for use in the study, were based around four key themes: emotional coping, practical coping, support networks and ‘you and your child’. The impact of the intervention was evaluated using both qualitative and quantitative measures.
When interviewed, parents reported increased self-belief and self-confidence and indicated that they felt better supported and stronger as a result of the intervention. This was consistent with the quantitative evaluation which identified significant improvements on scores for active coping and self-blame on the brief COPE inventory scale and for empathy and understanding and self-acceptance on the TOPSE scale. Scores on the self-report distress thermometer demonstrated a significant reduction in self-reported distress scores at the end of the intervention period.
Children tend to be represented as the quintessential victims of the ‘drug problem’, with drug-using parents, particularly mothers, characterised as vectors of the risks posed. Although evidence of drug use is not per se an impediment to retaining care of, or contact with, children (per Lady Hale in Re B  UKSC 33, at para. 143), it does pose one of the greatest challenges to social and political norms about ‘good parenting’, and often has a powerful impact on decisions about care within UK family courts. While there is a considerable body of scholarship assessing criminal justice responses to drug use, there has been little research into how the family serves as an important site for the constitution of drug harms and the making of ‘drugs’ and ‘addiction’. This paper is informed by qualitative analysis of approximately 150 case reports in which drug use has been cited as relevant in the determination of guardianship/parenting. The purpose will not be to contest the difficult decisions that judges had to make in these cases but, using perspectives rooted in Science and Technology Studies and feminist drug scholarship, to remain attendant to the ontological multiplicity of objects that emerge from attempts to stabilise drug harms in legal narratives.
Objectives: Children with acquired brain injury (ABI) can present with disruptive behavior, which is often a consequence of injury and parent factors. Parent factors are associated with child disruptive behavior. Furthermore, disinhibition in the child also leads to disruptive behavior. However, it is unclear how these factors interact. We investigated whether parental factors influence child disruptive behavior following ABI and how these factors interact. Methods: Parents of 77 children with ABI participated in the study. Parent factors (executive dysfunction, trait-anxiety), potential intervention targets (dysfunctional parenting practices, parental stress, child disinhibition), and child disruptive behavior were assessed. A hypothetical model based on the literature was tested using mediation and path analysis. Results: Mediation analysis revealed that child disinhibition and dysfunctional parenting practices mediated the association of parent factors and child disruptive behavior. Parents’ executive dysfunction mediated the association of dysfunctional parenting practices, parental stress and parent trait-anxiety. Parenting practices mediated the association of executive dysfunction and child disruptive behavior. Path analysis indices indicated good model adjustment. Comparative and Tucker-Lewis Index were >0.95, and the root mean square error of approximation was 0.059, with a chi-square of 0.25. Conclusions: A low level of parental trait-anxiety may be required to reduce dysfunctional parenting practices and child disinhibition. Impairments in child disinhibition can be exacerbated when parents present with high trait-anxiety. Child disinhibition is the major contributor of disruptive behavior reported by parents and teachers. The current study provides evidence of parent anxiety and child disinhibition as possible modifiable intervention targets for reducing child disruptive behavior. (JINS, 2019, 25, 237–248)
Evidence-based parenting support (EBPS) programs derived from social learning theory, cognitive behavioural principles, and developmental theory are among the most successful innovations in the entire field of psychological intervention. EBPS programs have been at the cutting edge of global dissemination efforts to increase community access to evidence-based parenting programs. Despite the widely recognised success of these efforts, existing models of parenting intervention are not a panacea, and much can be done to improved outcomes. Efforts to improve outcomes have included the emergence of a population-based approach to increase reach of intervention. This has included the development of flexible delivery modalities, including online parenting interventions, the incorporation of strategies to enhance cultural relevance and acceptability of programs, and more recently, applications with parents in very low resource settings. Further enhancements of outcomes are likely to be forthcoming as we gain a better understanding of the mechanisms that explain positive intervention effects and non-response to interventions. More cost-effective online professional training models are needed to disseminate and promote the sustained use of EBPS programs. New interventions are required for the most vulnerable parents when parenting concerns are complicated by other problems such as trauma, addictions, relationship conflict, family violence, mental health problems and intergenerational poverty. However, to scale effective programs, Commonwealth and state government policies and funding priorities need to respond to evidence about what works and make sustained investments in the implementation of parenting programs. Possible strategies to enhance the policy impact of intervention research are discussed.