Independent and interactive contributions of parenting behaviors and beliefs in the prediction of early childhood behavior problems

Melissa A Barnett, Lilly Shanahan, Min Deng, Mary E. Haskett, Martha J. Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Scopus citations


Objective. This study examined interactions between parenting beliefs and parenting behaviors in the prediction of early childhood externalizing and internalizing symptoms. Design. The authors observed sensitive and negative intrusive parenting behaviors during infancy and toddlerhood in conjunction with self-reported maternal beliefs about the importance of discipline/control and concerns regarding spoiling in a community sample of 185 African American and European American mother-child dyads. Multiple regression techniques modeled interactions between parenting self-reported parenting beliefs and observed parenting behaviors to predict mother-reported child internalizing symptoms and mother-reported child externalizing symptoms at 30 and 36 months. The analyses also explored the role of ethnicity as a moderator of these relations. Results. The combination of high and average spoiling beliefs and low levels of sensitive parenting was associated with elevated child internalizing symptoms. Negative parenting and beliefs reflecting concerns about spoiling were independent risk factors for elevated child externalizing symptoms. Conclusion. Parenting beliefs and behaviors should be considered jointly to identify risks for the development of early behavior problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-59
Number of pages17
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Psychology

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