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Environmental Adversity and Children's Early Trajectories of Problem Behavior: The Role of Harsh Parental Discipline

Flouri, E; Midouhas, E; (2016) Environmental Adversity and Children's Early Trajectories of Problem Behavior: The Role of Harsh Parental Discipline. Journal of Family Psychology , 31 (2) pp. 234-243. 10.1037/fam0000258. Green open access

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Abstract

This study was performed to examine the role of harsh parental discipline in mediating and moderating the effects of environmental adversity (family socioeconomic disadvantage and adverse life events) on emotional and behavioral problems across early-to-middle childhood. The sample included 16,916 children (48% female; 24% non-White) from the U.K.’s Millennium Cohort Study. We analyzed trajectories of conduct, hyperactivity, and emotional problems, measured at ages 3, 5, and 7 years, using growth curve models. Harsh parental discipline was measured at these ages with parent-reported items on the frequency of using the physical and verbal discipline tactics of smacking, shouting at, and “telling off” the child. As expected, family socioeconomic disadvantage and adverse life events were significantly associated with emotional and behavioral problems. Harsh parental discipline was related to children’s trajectories of problems, and it moderated, but did not explain, the effect of environmental risk on these trajectories. High-risk children experiencing harsh parental discipline had the highest levels of conduct problems and hyperactivity across the study period. In addition, harsh parental discipline predicted an increase in emotional symptoms over time in high-risk children, unseen in their counterparts experiencing low levels of harsh parental discipline. However, children in low-risk families were also negatively affected by harsh parental discipline concurrently and over time. In conclusion, harsh parental discipline predicted emotional and behavioral problems in high- and low-risk children and moderated the effects of family poverty and adversity on these problems.

Type: Article
Title: Environmental Adversity and Children's Early Trajectories of Problem Behavior: The Role of Harsh Parental Discipline
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1037/fam0000258
Publisher version: http://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/fam0000258
Language: English
Additional information: This article has been published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Copyright for this article is retained by the author(s). Author(s) grant(s) the American Psychological Association the exclusive right to publish the article and identify itself as the original publisher.
Keywords: adversity; parenting; internalizing and externalizing problems; Millennium Cohort Study; socioeconomic disadvantage
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Psychology and Human Development
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1536665
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