Harsh reactive and inconsistent parenting is a risk factor for a host of maladaptive socio-emotional and cognitive outcomes for children particularly when these behaviors reach the level of maltreatment. Harsh parenting practices are common, are moderately to highly stable over time, and can be highly resistant to change. Biological and psychological factors alike contribute to this variation between parents, but to date there have been few attempts to integrate these bio-psychological factors into a framework that also focuses on the specific parenting cognitions and negative affect that are thought to be involved.
Our aim i n the current study is to develop a model of maternal self-regulation that examines individual differences in mothers'executive attention and memory, and emotion regulation skills-measured at the behavioral and psychophysiological levels of analysis-in the etiology of harsh parenting behavior. We will study 150 lower and middle-income adult (18 years or older) mothers of four- to six-year-old children, with emphasis on recruiting an ethnically diverse sample. Mothers will participate in a laboratory procedure in which behavioral data, brain electrical activity data (EEG), and heart rate activity data (ECG) will be gathered. An additional adult informant (spouse/partner or other knowledgeable individual) will complete questionnaires by mail. Our two major aims include: 1. Investigation of the associations between maternal: executive attention/memory/emotion regulation (at the behavioral and physiological levels of analysis), parenting cognitions, negative affectivity, and harsh reactive parenting behaviors;2. Testing whether the associations between maternal parenting cognitions, negative affectivity, and harsh parenting behaviors are mediated and/or moderated by maternal executive attention/memory/emotion regulation (at the behavioral and physiological levels of analysis).

Public Health Relevance

These findings will inform practitioners about ways to ascertain problems in cognitive, emotional and behavioral self-regulation in mothers of young children, and in turn how best to serve these mothers with currently available methods of intervention or instruction. The research also will provide information for professionals working to improve the family environments of young children and their parents who may be highly distressed in their roles as caregivers.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-RPHB-A (02))
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Maholmes, Valerie
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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Crandall, AliceAnn; Ghazarian, Sharon R; Deater-Deckard, Kirby et al. (2018) The Interface of Maternal Cognitions and Executive Function in Parenting and Child Conduct Problems. Fam Relat 67:339-353
Deater-Deckard, Kirby; Bell, Martha Ann (2017) Maternal executive function, heart rate, and EEG alpha reactivity interact in the prediction of harsh parenting. J Fam Psychol 31:41-50
Blankenship, Tashauna L; O'Neill, Meagan; Deater-Deckard, Kirby et al. (2016) Frontotemporal function]al connectivity and executive functions contribute to episodic memory performance. Int J Psychophysiol 107:72-82
Wang, Zhe; Deater-Deckard, Kirby; Bell, Martha Ann (2016) The Role of Negative Affect and Physiological Regulation in maternal attribution. Parent Sci Pract 16:206-218
Deater-Deckard, Kirby; Li, Mengjiao; Bell, Martha Ann (2016) Multifaceted emotion regulation, stress and affect in mothers of young children. Cogn Emot 30:444-57
Chen, Nan; Bell, Martha Ann; Deater-Deckard, Kirby (2015) Maternal Frontal EEG Asymmetry and Chronic Stressors Moderate the Link between Child Conduct Problems and Maternal Negativity. Soc Dev 24:323-340
Spangler, Derek P; Bell, Martha Ann; Deater-Deckard, Kirby (2015) Emotion suppression moderates the quadratic association between RSA and executive function. Psychophysiology 52:1175-85
Deater-Deckard, Kirby (2014) Family matters: Intergenerational and interpersonal processes of executive function and attentive behavior. Curr Dir Psychol Sci 23:230-236
Chen, Nan; Deater-Deckard, Kirby; Bell, Martha Ann (2014) The role of temperament by family environment interactions in child maladjustment. J Abnorm Child Psychol 42:1251-62
Atzaba-Poria, Naama; Deater-Deckard, Kirby; Bell, Martha Ann (2014) It takes more than one for parenting: How do maternal temperament and child's conduct problems relate to maternal parenting behavior? Pers Individ Dif 69:81-86

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