Volume 22, Issue 3 (1993)
Family Interaction Patterns and Children's Conduct Problems at Home and School: A Longitudinal Perspective
Gregory S. Pettit, John E. Bates, Kenneth A. Dodge
This study examined the predictive associations among family interaction patterns assessed prior to kindergarten and children’s externalizing behavior problems (based on parents’ and teachers’ reports) in a sample of 165 kindergarten and first grade children and their families. Detailed home observations yielded both summary ratings and event-based measures of positiveproactive and negative-coercive styles of interaction. In general, externalizing problems were more strongly predicted by (a) the summary ratings than by the event-based measures, (b) negative-coercive patterns than by proactive-positive parenting (although both kinds of measure contributed to the prediction of kindergarten teachers’ ratings), and (c) mother-child interaction patterns than by father-child patterns. Mother-child interaction patterns predicted increments in children’s behavior problems from kindergarten to first grade at school (as rated by teachers), but not in the home (as rated by parents). Limited support was found for the hypothesis that the family interactions of children evidencing high levels of cross-setting (home-school) and cross-time (kindergarten-first grade) consistency in externalizing problems would be marked by especially high levels of negativity-coercion and low levels of positive-proactive involvement. Implications of these findings for the early identification and treatment of children at risk for conduct problems are discussed.
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