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Infant Child Dev. 2012 Jan;21(1):85-106. Epub 2011 Nov 14.

The Association between Positive Parenting and Externalizing Behavior.

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Institute for Behavioral Genetics, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO.


The present study examined the role of positive parenting on externalizing behaviors in a longitudinal, genetically informative sample. It often is assumed that positive parenting prevents behavior problems in children via an environmentally mediated process. Alternatively, the association may be due to either an evocative gene-environment correlation, in which parents react to children's genetically-influenced behavior in a positive way, or a passive gene-environment correlation, where parents passively transmit a risk environment and the genetic risk factor for the behavioral outcome to their children. The present study estimated the contribution of these processes in the association between positive parenting and children's externalizing behavior. Positive parenting was assessed via observations at ages 7, 9, 14, 24, and 36 months and externalizing behaviors were assessed through parent report at ages 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, and 12 years. The significant association between positive parenting and externalizing behavior was negative, with children of mothers who showed significantly more positive parenting during toddlerhood having lower levels of externalizing behavior in childhood; however, there was not adequate power to distinguish whether this covariation was due to genetic, shared environmental, or nonshared environmental influences.

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