Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


First Advisor

Soo-Young Hong

Second Advisor

Victoria Molfese

Date of this Version



Encinger, A. (2020).The influence of proximal and distal familial factors on preschool children's inhibitory control and social emotional skills. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Nebraska- Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Human Sciences (Child, Youth & Family Studies), Under the Supervision of Professors Soo-Young Hong and Victoria J. Molfese. Lincoln, Nebraska: November 2020

Copyright © 2020 Amy J. Encinger


Children in the United States experience higher rates of poverty than any other age group, including elderly adults and the poverty rate of young children (0-5 years) is considerably higher than that of older children (Proctor et al., 2016). There is an extensive body of research examining familial socioeconomic status (SES) and the influence on the skills and behaviors of young children; however, common key indicators of family SES may not fully depict the ways in which children living in poverty/low-income homes are influenced by economic disadvantage. The focus of the current study is to explore the ways in which proximal and distal familial factors are predictive of children’s inhibitory control and social-emotional skills to provide a more complete picture of how economic disadvantage affects young children.

The data source for the current study comes from The Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) 2014 and includes preschool aged children (M=57.87, SD=5.36) to investigate two research aims: to understand how proximal and distal factors are associated with preschool children’s inhibitory control and social-emotional skills; and to compare proximal and distal factors in preschool children’s household environment to traditional SES indices to gain greater understanding of the economic well-being indicators associated with school readiness. Three main findings emerged: (1) proximal variables were not found to fit a single, overarching proximal factor but remained independent variables; however, four distinct distal factors were revealed; (2) parent depression was not associated with children’s inhibitory control or social skill outcomes and (3) marital status predicted both observed and teacher reported child outcomes. Nonetheless, the findings from the current study provide evidence for considering the ways in which varying aspects of factors associated with poverty more negatively influence child outcomes than income alone.

Advisors: Soo-Young Hong and Victoria J. Molfese