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13-07-2017 | Original Paper | Uitgave 11/2017

Journal of Child and Family Studies 11/2017

Parental Stress and Children’s Social and Behavioral Outcomes: The Role of Abuse Potential over Time

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 11/2017
Auteurs:
Kathleen I. Crum, Angela D. Moreland

Abstract

Parental stress is a well-established risk factor for adverse child outcomes, including the development of aggression, externalizing behavior problems, and anxiety, as well as compromised emotional coping, impaired social cognition, and diminished treatment response. Abuse potential represents a mechanism by which parental stress may impact child social competence and behavior; evidence links parental stress to abuse potential, and abuse potential to a range of negative child social competence and behavioral outcomes. The current study assessed relationships between parental stress, abuse potential, and child social and behavioral outcomes over time. Parents of children ages 2–6 years (N = 610, 44% girls) reported on perceived parental stress and attitudes towards abuse and neglect, as well as child social competence and behavior problems, before and after a caregiver-directed, community-based intervention. Changes in parental stress, abuse potential, and child social and behavioral outcomes were examined using panel analyses, while controlling for intervention effects and demographic variables. Parental stress predicted child social competence, anxiety/withdrawal, and anger/aggression over time; while the links between stress and anxiety/withdrawal, and stress and social competence, were mediated by child abuse potential, the link between stress and anger/aggression was not mediated by child abuse potential. Findings suggest that abuse potential represents a mechanism by which parental stress and child social and behavioral outcomes are linked. Further, screening for child social competence deficits may identify children at risk for abuse, as well as parents in need of services to reduce stress.

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