Research examining factors contributing to preschool sleep problems is limited. This study investigated the mediating role of parenting styles (authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive parenting) in the relationship between parental psychological distress and sleep problems in young children.
Participants were parents of 232 young children aged three to five years. Parents completed the Children's Sleep Habits Questionnaire, the Parenting Style and Dimensions Questionnaire—Short Version, and the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale.
Only permissive parenting was found to significantly mediate the relationship between parental distress and preschool sleep problems (indirect effect = 0.16, p < 0.01), with a significant direct effect of parental psychological distress on child sleep problems (0.16, p < 0.01) also being present. Authoritarian and authoritative parenting were found to be unrelated to child sleep problems.
These findings suggest that augmenting treatment programs for preschool sleep problems with strategies targeting parental distress and permissive parenting where required, may be beneficial in improving preschool sleep problems.