Organized Chaos: Daily Routines Link Household Chaos and Child Behavior Problems

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Objective: The aim of this study was to examine daily routines as a potential mediator of the relation between household chaos and both child externalizing behavior and bedtime resistant behavior. Studies show that children living in chaotic households exhibit more externalizing behaviors, which when exhibited as early as the toddler and preschool years, are a risk factor for later maladjustment. Understanding the mechanisms linking household chaos to early externalizing behaviors is important since those mechanisms could be targeted as a point of intervention.

Methods: Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (Mturk), parents (n = 120) of a child age 2–5 completed questionnaires online assessing household chaos, frequency of routines, and child behavior problems.

Results: There was a significant indirect effect of household chaos to child behavior problems through family routines (B = 0.09, SE = 0.05, CI [0.01, 0.23]) and general child routines (B = 0.15, SE = 0.06, CI [0.05, 0.31]) (independently) and an indirect effect of household chaos to bedtime resistant behavior through children’s bedtime routines (B = 0.12, SE = 0.06, CI [0.03, 0.26]).

Conclusions: These findings suggest that household chaos and routines are distinctive constructs and that routines are a mechanism linking household chaos to early child behavior problems. Clinically, these results imply that routines may be a reasonable focus for intervention among families living in chaotic households who have young children exhibiting behavior problems.

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Journal of Child and Family Studies

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