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Supporting Social-Emotional Development for Children with Identified Developmental Concerns: The Impact of Parenting and Executive Function

Courtney E Boise, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

Social-emotional skills and executive function at preschool are critical for children's school readiness and long-term success in relationships and academic achievement. Unfortunately, young children who are at increased risk due to socioeconomic factors and identified developmental concerns are more likely to have poor social-emotional development. Existing literature demonstrates parenting is related to executive function and social-emotional development. However, the associations among executive function, parenting behaviors, and social-emotional development are not fully understood, especially for special populations (e.g., children with identified developmental concerns). This study examines (a) bidirectional associations between parenting, executive function and social-emotional skills; and (b) executive function as an explanatory mechanism for the predictive relation between specific parenting behaviors and children’s social-emotional development. Data came from 267 parents and children with identified developmental concerns attending Head Start and other publicly funded center-based preschools. Parenting behaviors (i.e., reciprocity, conflict and cooperation) were observationally assessed from video-recorded parent–child interactions. Children's executive function was assessed by teacher-report. Children's social-emotional skills (i.e., agency, compliance, affection towards the parent, avoidance of the parent and negativity) were observationally coded from video-recorded parent–child interactions. Multiple regression analyses were conducted. Higher levels of conflict in the fall predicted poorer executive function in the spring of the first year of preschool. Poorer executive function in the fall predicted less reciprocity and cooperation in the spring of the first year of preschool. Less agency and more affection towards the parent in the fall predicted poorer executive function in the spring of the first year of preschool. Poorer executive function in the fall predicted less affection towards the parent in the spring of the first year of preschool. Cross-lagged panel models demonstrated that executive function was not an explanatory mechanism for the relation between parenting behaviors and children's social-emotional skills. However, higher levels of conflict displayed by parents in the fall of the first year of preschool predicted more conflict during the spring of the same year. Higher levels of conflict in the spring then predicted poorer executive function and less agency during the spring of the child’s second year of preschool.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Boise, Courtney E, "Supporting Social-Emotional Development for Children with Identified Developmental Concerns: The Impact of Parenting and Executive Function" (2019). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI13862253.
https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI13862253

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