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Child Care Health Dev. 2011 Mar;37(2):224-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2010.01162.x. Epub 2010 Nov 18.

Parent stress and child behaviour among young children with type 1 diabetes.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC 20010, USA.



Parents of young children with type 1 diabetes (T1D) are responsible for executing a complex daily management regimen and are at risk for elevated levels of stress. Normative misbehaviour during the preschool years can complicate T1D management, and interpretation of behavioural concerns may vary because of child health status and parent stress. Within a paediatric transactional model framework, child characteristics (e.g. behaviour problems, metabolic control) and parent functioning (e.g. parenting stress, anxiety) likely impact one another.


Parents of 2- to 6-year-old children with T1D completed self-report measures, including the Pediatric Inventory for Parents (PIP), State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory (ECBI), and 24-h Recall Interviews. Medical data were obtained by parent report and medical record review. It was hypothesized that greater parent stress and child blood glucose variability would be significantly associated with greater parent-reported child behaviour concerns.


Moderate levels of parent stress and child behaviour problems were endorsed; however, parents perceived children's misbehaviour as problematic, particularly with relation to tasks relevant to diabetes management (e.g. bedtimes and mealtimes). Structural equation modelling indicated that greater general anxiety and paediatric parenting stress was associated with parent report of more problematic child behaviour. Blood glucose variability did not significantly contribute to this relationship.


The stress experienced by parents of young children with chronic illness appears to relate to their perception of their children's behaviour problems. Parents' experiences with developmentally normative misbehaviour may interfere with disease management and exacerbate parents' stress and the subsequent impact on well-being. Implications for supporting parents and children with T1D are discussed.

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