Date of Award

Summer 8-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Chair

Dr. Sara Jordan

Committee Chair Department

Psychology

Committee Member 2

Dr. Bonnie Nicholson

Committee Member 2 Department

Psychology

Committee Member 3

Dr. Christopher Barry

Committee Member 4

Dr. Tammy Barry

Abstract

Child externalizing behaviors are a common reason for children’s referral for mental health services, and parenting practices are a primary target of efficacious interventions. In turn, child temperament and parent beliefs, such as parental self-efficacy and locus of control, relate to use of specific parenting practices. The present study aimed to evaluate whether parental locus of control and related components moderate the indirect effect of preschool-aged children’s temperament on their externalizing behaviors through parenting practices. Specifically, child temperament was expected to predict parenting practices only at certain levels of locus of control. Female caregivers of 146 children ages 3-5 years from southern Mississippi were recruited through preschools and daycare programs. Participants completed questionnaires measuring child temperament, child externalizing behavior, parental locus of control, parenting practices, and demographic characteristics. Conditional indirect effect analyses were conducted to examine the influence of the various moderators (i.e., parental locus of control, parental control of child’s behavior, and parental self-efficacy) on the indirect effect of each aspect of child temperament (i.e., negative affectivity, extraversion/surgency, effortful control) on child externalizing behavior through parenting practices (i.e., positive, negative). Results supported an indirect effect of child extraversion/surgency on child externalizing behavior through negative parenting, conditional on parental self-efficacy. Results also revealed that both parental locus of control and parental self-efficacy moderated the relation between child effortful control and positive parenting practices, but results were less clear on the extent to which this moderating influence extended to the influence of positive parenting on child externalizing behaviors. The findings suggest the importance of targeting different aspects of parental beliefs dependent upon certain aspects of their child’s temperament when attempting to prevent child externalizing behaviors.

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