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29-01-2020

The Relations Among Stress, Executive Functions, and Harsh Parenting in Mothers

Auteurs: Joanne L. Park, Charlotte Johnston

Gepubliceerd in: Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology | Uitgave 5/2020

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Abstract

Stress is a common experience that can spillover into parenting, which in turn has important implications for child behavior. Parents’ executive functioning (EF) may buffer the association between feelings of stress and parenting. However, using lower socioeconomic status (SES) and household chaos as indicators of stress, research has demonstrated inconsistent patterns with regard to this moderating role of EF. This study’s first aim examined the moderating role of maternal EF on the associations between SES and household chaos, and harsh parenting. The second aim investigated the effects of experimentally induced stress on harsh parenting and whether maternal EF moderated these effects. A final sample of 101 mothers of 6 to 10-year-old children participated by completing measures of EF, household chaos, SES, and harsh parenting. Additionally, mothers were randomly assigned to either a stress group or a control group. Throughout the stress (or control) induction, mothers rated their harsh parenting in response to child misbehavior vignettes. Findings revealed that stronger EF reduced the association between household chaos and harsh parenting. There were no significant effects of SES or experimentally induced stress on harsh parenting, and EF was not a significant moderator for these stressors. These results highlight the buffering role of EF for more chronic stressors such as household chaos. SES and more acute stress, as manipulated by the TSST, at least in the current sample, may be less relevant.
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Voetnoten
1
Given evidence that the test-retest reliability of the WCST is poor, we omitted scores on this task for mothers who had indicated that they had completed the WCST previously (n = 5). Furthermore, mothers’ scores were omitted if they did not achieve at least one shift in matching principle throughout the duration of the task (n = 4), as this implied that they were unable to correctly identify even the first sorting principle across 128 trials and therefore did not understand the task.
 
2
The smaller n compared to the total sample size is due to the exclusion of faulty or invalid scores on the WCST.
 
3
Cognitive flexibility and problem-solving skills were each not significantly associated with harsh parenting, household chaos, self-reported EF, maternal psychological symptoms, or child behavior problems (rs = −0.18 to −0.003, ps > 0.05). They were significantly associated with verbal cognitive ability, maternal education, and SES (this association was marginal for maternal problem-solving), all in the same direction (rs = 0.22 to 0.35, ps < 0.05).
 
4
We also ran the main analysis with attributional and behavioral ratings treated separately, and the overall relations were consistent with the findings presented when these scales were combined to form the composite harsh parenting measure.
 
5
We monitored the effectiveness of the stress manipulation and found that after 12 mothers had participated, only 8 had responded to the stress manipulation (i.e., demonstrated an increase in SVAS levels of 3 points). As this percentage was below that typical of other TSST studies (70–80%; Kudielka et al. 2007), we switched the order of the speech and arithmetic tasks. This change was successful, as 85.4% of mothers were considered responders once the order of the tasks was switched. Independent samples t-tests were conducted between mothers who completed the speech task first and mothers who completed the arithmetic task first to examine whether there were any differences in SVAS levels and harsh parenting. Because there were no differences between groups on these measures, ps from 0.211 to 0.995, the groups were analyzed together.
 
6
Canadian norms for the SDQ are not available.
 
7
It is not possible to produce the variance and covariance matrix of model estimates using the ‘mice’ package. Therefore, these simple slope calculations used estimates from regression analyses using listwise deletion methods in SPSS as there were negligible differences in findings across listwise deletion or multiple imputation.
 
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Metagegevens
Titel
The Relations Among Stress, Executive Functions, and Harsh Parenting in Mothers
Auteurs
Joanne L. Park
Charlotte Johnston
Publicatiedatum
29-01-2020
Uitgeverij
Springer US
Gepubliceerd in
Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology / Uitgave 5/2020
Print ISSN: 2730-7166
Elektronisch ISSN: 2730-7174
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-020-00622-x

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