Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Sara S. Jordan

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Stephanie D. Smith

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Bonnie Nicholson

Committee Member 3 School



Children living in chaotic households exhibit more externalizing behaviors. Child externalizing behavior, exhibited as early as the toddler and preschool years, is 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. The primary 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. A secondary aim was to examine different levels of routines (family routines, general daily child routines, and specific bedtime routines) in the models to determine which level is more salient in linking chaos to child behavior problems. Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (Mturk), parents of a child age 2-5 completed questionnaires assessing household chaos, frequency of routines, and child behavior problems. Family routines and general child routines (independently) partially mediated the relationship between household chaos and child behavior problems. Bedtime routines partially mediated the relationship between household chaos and bedtime resistant behavior. Parallel mediation models revealed that the levels of routines were not significantly different from one another in predicting fewer behavior problems. Results from this study suggest that household chaos and routines are distinctive constructs and that routines are a mechanism linking household chaos to early child behavior problems. Further, results provide initial evidence that routines may be a reasonable focus for intervention among families living in chaotic households who have young children exhibiting behavior problems.