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Infant Ment Health J. 2014 Sep-Oct;35(5):462-72. doi: 10.1002/imhj.21467. Epub 2014 Aug 27.

Low-income, minority fathers' control strategies and their children's regulatory skills.

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University of Maryland, College Park.


The current study explored the bidirectional association of children's individual characteristics, fathers' control strategies at 24 months, and children's regulatory skills at prekindergarten (pre-K). Using a sample of low-income, minority families with 2-year-olds from the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project (n = 71), we assessed the association between child gender and vocabulary skills, fathers' control strategies at 24 months (e.g., regulatory behavior and regulatory language), and children's sustained attention and emotion regulation at prekindergarten. There were three main findings. First, fathers overwhelmingly used commands (e.g., "Do that.") to promote compliance in their 24-month-old children. Second, children's vocabulary skills predicted fathers' regulatory behaviors during a father-child interaction whereas children's gender predicted fathers' regulatory language during an interaction. Third, controlling for maternal supportiveness, fathers' regulatory behaviors at 24 months predicted children's sustained attention at pre-K whereas fathers' regulatory language at 24 months predicted children's emotion regulation at pre-K. Our findings highlight the importance of examining paternal contributions to children's regulatory skills.

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