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Dev Psychol. 2007 Sep;43(5):1187-201.

A conceptual model for the development of externalizing behavior problems among kindergarten children of alcoholic families: role of parenting and children's self-regulation.

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  • 1Research Institute on Addictions, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Buffalo, NY 14203, USA.


The purpose of this study was to test a conceptual model predicting children's externalizing behavior problems in kindergarten in a sample of children with alcoholic (n = 130) and nonalcoholic (n = 97) parents. The model examined the role of parents' alcohol diagnoses, depression, and antisocial behavior at 12-18 months of child age in predicting parental warmth/sensitivity at 2 years of child age. Parental warmth/sensitivity at 2 years was hypothesized to predict children's self-regulation at 3 years (effortful control and internalization of rules), which in turn was expected to predict externalizing behavior problems in kindergarten. Structural equation modeling was largely supportive of this conceptual model. Fathers' alcohol diagnosis at 12-18 months was associated with lower maternal and paternal warmth/sensitivity at 2 years. Lower maternal warmth/sensitivity was longitudinally predictive of lower child self-regulation at 3 years, which in turn was longitudinally predictive of higher externalizing behavior problems in kindergarten, after controlling for prior behavior problems. There was a direct association between parents' depression and children's externalizing behavior problems. Results indicate that one pathway to higher externalizing behavior problems among children of alcoholics may be via parenting and self-regulation in the toddler to preschool years.

PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved.

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