Publications by authors named "Erika Lunkenheimer"

31 Publications

Individual differences in parent and child average RSA and parent psychological distress influence parent-child RSA synchrony.

Biol Psychol 2021 Apr 19;161:108077. Epub 2021 Mar 19.

Department of Psychology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, United States.

Parent-child synchrony of respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) varies by risk, but novel approaches are needed to capture individual contributions to synchrony. Multilevel state-trait modeling was applied to examine how parental psychological distress and parent and child average RSA during challenge (reflecting individual regulatory capacities) shaped RSA synchrony in mother-child (n = 71) and father-child (n = 47) interactions. RSA synchrony was curvilinear such that greater in-the-moment RSA reactivity in one partner prompted greater reactivity in the other. Higher risk (lower average RSA; higher distress) predicted in-the-moment RSA withdrawal to partner RSA changes, whereas lower risk (higher average RSA; lower distress) predicted in-the-moment RSA augmentation. In some models, one's higher average RSA prompted the partner's greater reactivity and thus synchrony when parental distress was higher. However, the presence and direction of synchrony was not consistently adaptive nor maladaptive across models, suggesting its meaning relies on theory and the parent and risk factors in question.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2021.108077DOI Listing
April 2021

Differences in mother-child and father-child RSA synchrony: Moderation by child self-regulation and dyadic affect.

Dev Psychobiol 2021 Jan 9. Epub 2021 Jan 9.

The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA.

Parents and preschoolers show respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) synchrony, but it is unclear how child self-regulation and the dyadic affective climate shape RSA synchrony and how synchrony differs for mothers and fathers. We examined child average RSA, externalizing problems, and dyadic positive affect as moderators of the synchrony of dynamic, within-epoch child and parent RSA reactivity during a challenging task. Mothers (N = 82) and fathers (N = 60) oversampled for familial risk participated with their 3-year-olds. For mothers, when children showed either higher externalizing or lower average RSA, negative RSA synchrony was observed as dynamic coupling of maternal RSA augmentation and child RSA withdrawal, suggesting inadequate support of the child during challenge. However, when children showed both higher externalizing and lower average RSA, indicating greater regulatory difficulties overall, positive synchrony was observed as joint RSA withdrawal. The same patterns were found for father-child RSA synchrony but instead with respect to the moderators of higher externalizing and lower dyadic positive affect. Findings suggest moderators of RSA synchrony differ by parent and shared positive affect plays a robust role in fathers' RSA reactivity and synchrony. Mothers may be more attuned to children's regulatory capacities, whereas fathers may be more influenced by the immediate behavioral context.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/dev.22080DOI Listing
January 2021

Parental depressive symptoms, parent-child dyadic behavioral variability, and child dysregulation.

J Fam Psychol 2021 Mar 12;35(2):247-257. Epub 2020 Nov 12.

Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

Parental depressive symptoms are associated with greater variability and inconsistency in parenting behavior as well as children's emotional and behavioral dysregulation. The present study explored whether such relations extended to dyadic processes, examining whether maternal and paternal depressive symptoms at child age 3½ interacted with concurrent higher dyadic behavioral variability (DBV) in mother-child free play to heighten children's emotional and behavioral dysregulation at age 4 ( = 100). Child dysregulation was measured as mother-reported emotional lability-negativity and externalizing problems, and DBV was measured as the number of transitions among dyadic behavioral states using state space grids. Parent behaviors included parent directives, positive reinforcement, and disengagement, and child behaviors included child compliance, persistence, and noncompliance, among others. Analyses also accounted for the degree of positive (compared to negative) behavioral content. Moderation analyses showed that DBV predicted greater child dysregulation only when maternal or paternal depressive symptoms were higher. Further, DBV was detrimental only when dyadic positive interaction content was low. Findings suggest DBV combined with low positive content in parent-child interactions is a particular risk factor for children's regulatory development. Fostering positive, predictable interaction patterns may be an important target for family interventions with a depressed parent. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/fam0000807DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8058277PMC
March 2021

The dynamics of maternal scaffolding vary by cumulative risk status.

J Fam Psychol 2021 Mar 1;35(2):203-212. Epub 2020 Oct 1.

Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University.

Parental scaffolding, or parenting behaviors that support children's independence and competence, can foster children's self-regulation development. Children facing higher cumulative risk may experience less scaffolding and more directives from parents, but it is unclear how cumulative risk affects the dynamics of parent-child interactions in real time. We examined the role of cumulative risk in mothers' moment-to-moment use of scaffolding and directives in response to preschoolers' off- and on-task behaviors ( = 117). Mothers answered questionnaires about cumulative risk at child age 2.5 years and completed a challenging puzzle task with their preschoolers at age 3 years. Continuous-time multilevel survival analyses revealed differences by cumulative risk in the likelihood of mothers' parenting responses following children's off- and on-task behavioral transitions over the course of the interaction. Specifically, when children went off-task, higher cumulative risk was associated with a lower likelihood of maternal scaffolding, but a comparable likelihood of directives, compared to lower risk mothers. When children got on-task, mothers with higher cumulative risk were less likely to respond with scaffolding and more likely to respond with directives than lower risk mothers. These results suggest that parents at higher risk respond with less scaffolding regardless of child behavior and respond with more directive commands when they may be unnecessary. Findings provide novel, real-time descriptive information about how and when parents experiencing cumulative risk use scaffolding and directive strategies, thus informing microlevel targets for intervention. Implications for the development of self-regulation in children at risk are discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/fam0000806DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8012400PMC
March 2021

Person-centered profiles of parasympathetic physiology, anxiety symptoms, and depressive symptoms in mothers and fathers of young children.

Dev Psychobiol 2020 Sep 26. Epub 2020 Sep 26.

Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA.

Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) is a biomarker of mental health, but RSA-symptom relations in parents of young children are understudied. We examined how anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms, resting RSA, and RSA reactivity during challenging parent-child interactions clustered in a community sample of mothers (N = 126) and fathers (N = 87) of 3-year-olds and whether profiles predicted child emotional and behavioral dysregulation at age 4. Mothers fit four profiles (Typical, Mild Risk, Moderate Risk/Withdrawal, and Moderate Risk/Augmentation), suggesting that RSA reactivity was distinct by predominant symptom type at higher levels of risk: specifically, heightened RSA withdrawal was associated with a higher probability of anxiety symptoms and RSA augmentation was associated with a higher probability of depressive symptoms. Fathers fit three profiles (Typical, Mild Risk, and Moderate Risk) where Moderate Risk was characterized by RSA augmentation and a higher probability of both anxiety and depressive symptoms. Mild risk profiles showed heightened resting RSA for mothers and fathers but no differences in RSA reactivity. Both mild and moderate risk profiles predicted higher child dysregulation 1 year later compared to typical profiles. Findings offer preliminary evidence that parasympathetic physiology covaries with symptoms differently for mothers and fathers and that parental profiles of physiology and symptoms inform children's developmental psychopathology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/dev.22043DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7994210PMC
September 2020

Understanding the parent-child coregulation patterns shaping child self-regulation.

Dev Psychol 2020 Jun 20;56(6):1121-1134. Epub 2020 Apr 20.

Department of Psychology.

Parent-child coregulation, thought to support children's burgeoning regulatory capacities, is the process by which parents and their children regulate one another through their goal-oriented behavior and expressed affect. Two particular coregulation patterns-dyadic contingency and dyadic flexibility-appear beneficial in early childhood, but their role in the typical development of self-regulation is not yet clear. The present study examined whether dynamic parent-child patterns of dyadic contingency and dyadic flexibility in both affect and goal-oriented behavior (e.g., discipline, compliance) predicted multiple components of preschoolers' self-regulation. Mother-child dyads ( = 100) completed structured and unstructured dyadic tasks in the laboratory at age 3, and mothers completed child self-regulation measures at age 4. Findings showed that more flexible and contingent affective parent-child processes, as long as the affective content was primarily positive or neutral, predicted higher levels of self-regulation in early childhood. However, when dyads engaged in more negative affective and behavioral content, higher levels of affective and behavioral contingency and behavioral flexibility predicted lower levels of child self-regulation. Findings suggest parent-child coregulation processes play a meaningful role in children's typical regulatory development and that parent-child coregulation patterns can be potentially adaptive or maladaptive for child outcomes depending on the content of the interaction. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/dev0000926DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7556995PMC
June 2020

The role of dynamic, dyadic parent-child processes in parental socialization of emotion.

Dev Psychol 2020 Mar;56(3):566-577

Department of Psychology, University of Michigan.

We investigated what a dyadic framework added to Eisenberg, Cumberland, and Spinrad's (1998) parental emotion socialization model based on the argument that the dynamic organization of emotion in the dyad is more than the sum of its parts and thus makes a unique contribution to emotion socialization. Preschoolers (N = 235) completed challenging problem-solving tasks with mothers and fathers, during which parental emotion-related socialization behaviors (ERSBs), child negative emotional arousal, and dyadic positive emotion data were collected. We examined whether dyadic synchrony of positive emotion at age 3 was a mechanism by which age 3 parental ERSBs impacted children's age 5 aggressive behavior in school, accounting for child gender, child negative emotional arousal, and aggressive behavior in preschool. ERSBs were significantly positively related to dyadic positive synchrony with both mothers and fathers at age 3. Longitudinal models supported an indirect effect, not a moderating effect, of dyadic synchrony: both mothers' and fathers' ERSBs contributed to children's less aggressive behavior at age 5 through the effects of higher dyadic positive synchrony. Findings suggest dynamic, dyadic emotional processes should be considered as a mechanism of emotion socialization and that parent-child positive emotional synchrony is supportive of early childhood emotional development. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/dev0000808DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7041841PMC
March 2020

The Interpersonal Neurobiology of Child Maltreatment: Parasympathetic Substrates of Interactive Repair in Maltreating and Nonmaltreating Mother-Child Dyads.

Child Maltreat 2019 11 23;24(4):353-363. Epub 2019 Jan 23.

University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA.

Children's repair of conflict with parents may be particularly challenging in maltreating families, and early, stressful parent-child interactions may contribute to children's altered neurobiological regulatory systems. To explore neurobiological signatures of repair processes, we examined whether mother and child individual and dyadic respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) covaried with interactive repair differently in maltreating versus nonmaltreating mother-preschooler dyads ( = 101), accounting for whether repair was mother or child initiated. Mother-initiated repair was equally frequent and protective across groups, associated with no change in mother or child RSA at higher levels of repair. But lower levels of mother repair were associated with child RSA withdrawal in nonmaltreating dyads versus child RSA augmentation in maltreating dyads. In maltreating dyads only, higher child-initiated repair was associated with higher mean mother RSA, whereas lower child repair was associated with mother RSA withdrawal. Findings suggest that interactive repair may have a buffering effect on neurobiological regulation but also that maltreating mothers and children show atypical neurobiological response to interpersonal challenges including differences related to children conducting the work of interactive repair that maltreating parents are less able to provide. We conclude by considering the role of maladaptive parent-child relationship processes in the biological embedding of early adversity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1077559518824058DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7556358PMC
November 2019

Preschoolers' Self-Regulation in Context: Task Persistence Profiles with Mothers and Fathers and Later Attention Problems in Kindergarten.

J Abnorm Child Psychol 2019 06;47(6):947-960

Psychology, Pennsylvania State University, 140 Moore Building, University Park, PA, USA.

Task persistence is related to attentional regulation and is needed for the successful transition to school. Understanding preschoolers' task persistence with caregivers could better inform the development and prevention of attention problems across this transition. Preschoolers' real-time task persistence profiles during problem-solving tasks with mothers (N=214) and fathers (N=117) were examined as antecedents of teacher-rated attention problems in kindergarten, accounting for child temperament, parenting, and preschool attention problems. Group-based trajectory modeling identified five profiles with mothers and four with fathers; more children showed high task persistence with mothers than fathers. With mothers, when persistence started low and increased over time, children had lower inhibitory control, higher verbal skills, and received more directives. This increasing profile had the highest-rated attention problems, followed by the stable low persistence profile; both groups showed higher attention problems than children who started high and declined slowly in persistence over time. Results implied children who start tasks low in persistence may require the most maternal effort to get on task, and whether those efforts are successful (increasing persistence) or not (stable low persistence), may be the same children teachers perceive as having the most attention problems. Profiles with fathers were not associated with attention problems but pointed to the importance of father-child affective processes (child negative emotion, paternal praise) in children's task persistence. Findings suggest mothers and fathers play different roles in regulatory development and that person-centered profiles of self-regulation in context may inform the prevention of children's regulatory problems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10802-019-00512-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7556356PMC
June 2019

Mother-Child Coregulation of Parasympathetic Processes Differs by Child Maltreatment Severity and Subtype.

Child Maltreat 2018 08 11;23(3):211-220. Epub 2018 Jan 11.

2 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA.

Parasympathetic processes appear to underlie maladaptive parent-child interactions in maltreating families, but it is unknown whether parent-child coregulation of respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) differs by child maltreatment severity and subtype. RSA coregulation in maltreating and nonmaltreating mother-child dyads ( N = 146; age 3-5 years) during two dyadic tasks was analyzed using dynamic time series modeling. Nonmaltreating dyads showed positive RSA concordance but maltreating dyads (when examined as one group) did not. However, when examined separately by subtype, physically abusive dyads showed positive concordance and neglectful dyads no concordance, in dyadic RSA. Patterns were further modified by maltreatment severity, which predicted discordant RSA (one partner's RSA predicting decreases in the other's) in both groups. Specifically, higher physical abuse severity predicted lower resting child RSA, declining mother RSA over time, and mother RSA predicting declines in child RSA over time, suggesting a mother-driven dyadic stress response. Higher neglect severity predicted increasing child RSA over time and child RSA predicting declines in mother RSA over time, suggesting a child-driven maternal stress response. These findings show there are distinct patterns of RSA coregulation in nonmaltreating, physically abusive, and neglectful mother-child dyads, which may inform etiology and intervention with respect to stress regulation in maltreating families.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1077559517751672DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6026580PMC
August 2018

It's OK to Fail: Individual and Dyadic Regulatory Antecedents of Mastery Motivation in Preschool.

J Child Fam Stud 2017 May 13;26(5):1481-1490. Epub 2017 Mar 13.

Tufts University.

Mastery motivation is closely related to children's regulatory processes and is socialized by parents. However, we know little about how individual child and dyadic parent-child regulatory processes work together to foster the early development of mastery motivation in preschool. The present study examined dyadic persistence in parent-child interactions, children's effortful control, and children's successful versus failed attempts in a challenging object mastery task at age 3.5 years and their prediction of teacher ratings of object-oriented and social mastery motivation in preschool at a 4-month follow-up ( = 100). Path analytic models revealed that greater dyadic persistence during parent-child interactions predicted children's higher levels of social mastery. A greater rate of both successful and failed attempts at a challenging task predicted children's higher levels of object mastery. However, failed attempts were positively related to concurrent individual and dyadic regulatory measures, whereas successful attempts were not. Findings suggest that parent-child coregulation makes a significant contribution to mastery motivation development and that there may be distinct antecedents for object-oriented versus social forms of mastery motivation. Findings also suggest that a child's early ability to persist in the face of failure may be an important predictor of mastery motivation in preschool.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10826-016-0633-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5619676PMC
May 2017

Parent-child coregulation of parasympathetic processes varies by social context and risk for psychopathology.

Psychophysiology 2018 02 28;55(2). Epub 2017 Aug 28.

Department of Psychology, Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania, USA.

The parasympathetic nervous system supports social interaction and varies in relation to psychopathology. However, we know little about parasympathetic processes from a dyadic framework, nor in early childhood when parent-child social interactions become more complex and child psychopathology first emerges. We hypothesized that higher risk for psychopathology (maternal psychopathology symptoms and child problem behavior) would be related to weaker concordance of respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) between mothers and children (M = 3½ years old; N = 47) and that these relations could vary by social contextual demands, comparing unstructured free play, semistructured cleanup, and structured teaching tasks. Multilevel coupled autoregressive models of RSA during parent-child interactions showed overall dynamic, positive concordance in mother-child RSA over time, but this concordance was weaker during the more structured teaching task. In contrast, higher maternal psychological aggression and child externalizing and internalizing problems were associated with weaker dyadic RSA concordance, which was weakest during unstructured free play. Higher maternal depressive symptoms were related to disrupted individual mother and child RSA but not to RSA concordance. Thus, risk for psychopathology was generally related to weaker dyadic mother-child RSA concordance in contexts with less complex structure or demands (free play, cleanup), as compared to the structured teaching task that showed weaker RSA concordance for all dyads. Implications for the meaning and utility of the construct of parent-child physiological coregulation are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/psyp.12985DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5773380PMC
February 2018

The effects of maternal respiratory sinus arrhythmia and behavioral engagement on mother-child physiological coregulation.

Dev Psychobiol 2017 11 5;59(7):888-898. Epub 2017 Jul 5.

Colorado State University, Human Development and Family Studies, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Parent-child coregulation is thought to be an important precursor for children's developing self-regulation, but we know little about how individual parent factors shape parent-child physiological coregulation. We examined whether maternal baseline respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), teaching, and disengagement were associated with stronger or weaker coregulation of RSA between mothers and their 3-year-old children (N = 47), modeled across 18 min of observed dyadic interaction using multilevel coupled autoregressive models. Whereas greater maternal teaching was associated with stronger coregulation in mother and child RSA over time, maternal disengagement was related to weaker coregulation, specifically more divergent parent and child RSA at higher levels of maternal disengagement. Coregulation of mother-child RSA was also weaker when mothers' baseline RSA was higher. Findings contribute to the emerging knowledge base on real-time patterns of parent-child physiological coregulation in early childhood and suggest that mothers' physiology and behavioral engagement with the child play an important role in mother-child physiological coregulation patterns.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/dev.21543DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7556357PMC
November 2017

Adolescent Conflict Appraisals Moderate the Link Between Marital Conflict and Physiological Stress Reactivity.

J Res Adolesc 2017 03 5;27(1):173-188. Epub 2016 May 5.

Arizona State University.

The goal of this study was to advance understanding of how adolescent conflict appraisals contribute uniquely, and in combination with interparental conflict behavior, to individual differences in adolescent physiological reactivity. Saliva samples were collected from 153 adolescents (52% female; ages 10-17 years) before and after the Trier Social Stress Test. Saliva was assayed for cortisol and alpha-amylase. Results revealed interactive effects between marital conflict and conflict appraisals. For youth who appraised parental conflict negatively (particularly as threatening), negative marital conflict predicted dampened reactivity; for youth who appraised parental conflict less negatively, negative marital conflict predicted heightened reactivity. These findings support the notion that the family context and youth appraisals of family relationships are linked with individual differences in biological sensitivity to context.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jora.12264DOI Listing
March 2017

Assessing Biobehavioural Self-Regulation and Coregulation in Early Childhood: The Parent-Child Challenge Task.

Infant Child Dev 2017 Jan-Feb;26(1). Epub 2016 Apr 5.

Colorado State University.

Researchers have argued for more dynamic and contextually relevant measures of regulatory processes in interpersonal interactions. In response, we introduce and examine the effectiveness of a new task, the Parent-Child Challenge Task, designed to assess the self-regulation and coregulation of affect, goal-directed behavior, and physiology in parents and their preschoolers in response to an experimental perturbation. Concurrent and predictive validity was examined via relations with children's externalizing behaviors. Mothers used only their words to guide their 3-year-old children to complete increasingly difficult puzzles in order to win a prize ( = 96). A challenge condition was initiated mid-way through the task with a newly introduced time limit. The challenge produced decreases in parental teaching and dyadic behavioral variability and increases in child negative affect and dyadic affective variability, measured by dynamic systems-based methods. Children rated lower on externalizing showed respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) suppression in response to challenge, whereas those rated higher on externalizing showed RSA augmentation. Additionally, select task changes in affect, behavior, and physiology predicted teacher-rated externalizing behaviors four months later. Findings indicate the Parent-Child Challenge Task was effective in producing regulatory changes and suggest its utility in assessing biobehavioral self-regulation and coregulation in parents and their preschoolers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/icd.1965DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5404237PMC
April 2016

Harsh parenting, child behavior problems, and the dynamic coupling of parents' and children's positive behaviors.

J Fam Psychol 2017 Sep 23;31(6):689-698. Epub 2017 Mar 23.

Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Pennsylvania State University.

We examined self-reported maternal and paternal harsh parenting (HP) and its effect on the moment-to-moment dynamic coupling of maternal autonomy support and children's positive, autonomous behavior. This positive behavior coupling was measured via hidden Markov models as the likelihood of transitions into specific positive dyadic states in real time. We also examined whether positive behavior coupling, in turn, predicted later HP and child behavior problems. Children (N = 96; age = 3.5 years at Time 1) and mothers completed structured clean-up and puzzle tasks in the laboratory. Mothers' and fathers' HP was associated with children's being less likely to respond positively to maternal autonomy support; mothers' HP was also associated with mothers' being less likely to respond positively to children's autonomous behavior. When mothers responded to children's autonomous behavior with greater autonomy support, children showed fewer externalizing and internalizing problems over time and mothers showed less HP over time. These results were unique to the dynamic coupling of maternal autonomy support and children's autonomous behavior: The overall amount of these positive behaviors did not similarly predict reduced problems. Findings suggest that HP in the family system compromises the coregulation of positive behavior between mother and child and that improving mothers' and children's abilities to respond optimally to one another's autonomy-supportive behaviors may reduce HP and child behavior problems over time. (PsycINFO Database Record
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/fam0000310DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5608615PMC
September 2017

Breaking Down the Coercive Cycle: How Parent and Child Risk Factors Influence Real-Time Variability in Parental Responses to Child Misbehavior.

Parent Sci Pract 2016 23;16(4):237-256. Epub 2016 Aug 23.

Radboud University.

Objective: Parent-child coercive cycles have been associated with both rigidity and inconsistency in parenting behavior. To explain these mixed findings, we examined real-time variability in maternal responses to children's off-task behavior to determine whether this common trigger of the coercive cycle (responding to child misbehavior) is associated with rigidity or inconsistency in parenting. We also examined the effects of risk factors for coercion (maternal hostility, maternal depressive symptoms, child externalizing problems, and dyadic negativity) on patterns of parenting.

Design: Mother-child dyads ( = 96; child age = 41 months) completed a difficult puzzle task, and observations were coded continuously for parent (e.g., directive, teaching) and child behavior (e.g., on-task, off-task).

Results: Multilevel continuous-time survival analyses revealed that parenting behavior is less variable when children are off-task. However, when risk factors are higher, a different profile emerges. Combined maternal and child risk is associated with markedly lower variability in parenting behavior overall (i.e., rigidity) paired with shifts towards higher variability specifically when children are off-task (i.e., inconsistency). Dyadic negativity (i.e., episodes when children are off-task and parents engage in negative behavior) are also associated with higher parenting variability.

Conclusions: Risk factors confer rigidity in parenting overall, but in moments when higher-risk parents must respond to child misbehavior, their parenting becomes more variable, suggesting inconsistency and ineffectiveness. This context-dependent shift in parenting behavior may help explain prior mixed findings and offer new directions for family interventions designed to reduce coercive processes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15295192.2016.1184925DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5295527PMC
August 2016

Can We Fix This? Parent-Child Repair Processes and Preschoolers' Regulatory Skills.

Fam Relat 2016 Oct 16;65(4):576-590. Epub 2016 Sep 16.

Colorado State University.

The repair of difficult parent-child interactions is a marker of healthy functioning in infancy, but less is known about repair processes during early childhood. We used dynamic systems methods to investigate dyadic repair in mothers and their 3-year-old children ( = 96) and its prediction of children's emotion regulation and behavior problems at a four-month follow-up. Mothers and children completed free play and challenging puzzle tasks. Repair was operationalized as the conditional probability of moving into a dyadic adaptive behavior region after individual or dyadic maladaptive behavior (e.g., child noncompliance, parental criticism). Overall, dyads repaired approximately half their maladaptive behaviors. A greater likelihood of repair during the puzzle task predicted better child emotion regulation and fewer behavior problems in preschool. Results suggest dyadic repair is an important process in early childhood and provide further evidence for the connection between parent-child coregulation and children's developing regulatory capacities. Implications for family-based interventions are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fare.12213DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5298208PMC
October 2016

Innovative Methods in the Science of Parent-Child Relations.

Infant Child Dev 2015 May-Jun;24(3):215-219. Epub 2015 Jun 4.

Human Development and Family Studies, University of North Carolina Greensboro, Greensboro, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/icd.1920DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4659391PMC
June 2015

Resilience as Regulation of Developmental and Family Processes.

Fam Relat 2015 Feb 7;64(1):153-175. Epub 2015 Jan 7.

Colorado State University.

Resilience can be defined as establishing equilibrium subsequent to disturbances to a system caused by significant adversity. When families experience adversity or transitions, multiple regulatory processes may be involved in establishing equilibrium, including adaptability, regulation of negative affect, and effective problem-solving skills. The authors' resilience-as-regulation perspective integrates insights about the regulation of individual development with processes that regulate family systems. This middle-range theory of family resilience focuses on regulatory processes across levels that are involved in adaptation: whole-family systems such as routines and sense of coherence; coregulation of dyads involving emotion regulation, structuring, and reciprocal influences between social partners; and individual self-regulation. Insights about resilience-as-regulation are then applied to family-strengthening interventions that are designed to promote adaptation to adversity. Unresolved issues are discussed in relation to resilience-as-regulation in families, in particular how risk exposure is assessed, interrelations among family regulatory mechanisms, and how families scaffold the development of children's resilience.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/fare.12100DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4642729PMC
February 2015

The Long-Term Economic Benefits of Natural Mentoring Relationships for Youth.

Am J Community Psychol 2015 Sep;56(1-2):12-24

Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Colorado State University, 1570 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO, 80523-1570, USA,

Natural mentors have been shown to help improve psychological and educational outcomes of youth, and may serve an important role for youth experiencing risk in the home. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), we investigated the associations between natural mentors during youth and income during early adulthood, including how these relations were moderated by the absence of a father figure and race. We also estimated the lifetime economic benefits to having a natural mentor. The presence of a natural mentor alone did not have a significant impact on annual earnings during adulthood. However, youth without a father but who had a male mentor earned significantly more, on average, than those without a male mentor. These effects were more pronounced in a subsample of African American youth. The net present value of total lifetime benefits to having a male natural mentor was approximately $190,000 for all fatherless youth and $458,000 for African American fatherless youth. These results suggest that natural mentors play a crucial role in economic outcomes for youth, which may vary by sociodemographic factors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10464-015-9735-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4643259PMC
September 2015

Associations Between Marital Conflict and Adolescent Conflict Appraisals, Stress Physiology, and Mental Health.

J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol 2017 May-Jun;46(3):379-393. Epub 2015 Jul 2.

a Department of Human Development and Family Studies , Colorado State University.

The goal of the current study was to examine conflict appraisals and diurnal cortisol production as mediators of the robust association between marital conflict and adolescent adjustment problems. Parents reported their marital conflict and were observed engaging in a marital conflict discussion; they also reported adolescent internalizing and externalizing behaviors. Adolescents (n = 105, 52% female, 10-17 years of age) appraised their parents' marital conflict and reported their internalizing and externalizing behaviors. After the laboratory visit, adolescents provided four saliva samples on each of 2 consecutive days to assess diurnal cortisol production. More-negative marital conflict predicted more self-blame for parental conflict, which in turn predicted less robust decreases in cortisol across the day. Further, this flattened cortisol production pattern mediated the relationship between greater self-blame for parental conflict and adolescents' elevated internalizing behaviors. Feeling responsible for parental conflict appears to be particularly damaging in terms of physiological regulation and adjustment, and may therefore be a particularly useful intervention target.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15374416.2015.1046179DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4698249PMC
June 2017

Coregulation of respiratory sinus arrhythmia between parents and preschoolers: differences by children's externalizing problems.

Dev Psychobiol 2015 Dec 14;57(8):994-1003. Epub 2015 May 14.

Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Colorado State University, CO.

The coordination of physiological processes between parents and infants is thought to support behaviors critical for infant adaptation, but we know little about parent-child physiological coregulation during the preschool years. The present study examined whether time-varying changes in parent and child respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) exhibited coregulation (across-person dynamics) accounting for individual differences in parent and child RSA, and whether there were differences in these parasympathetic processes by children's externalizing problems. Mother-child dyads (N = 47; Child age M = 3½ years) engaged in three laboratory tasks (free play, clean up, puzzle task) for 18 min, during which RSA data were collected. Multilevel coupled autoregressive models revealed that mothers and preschoolers showed positive coregulation of RSA such that changes in mother RSA predicted changes in the same direction in child RSA and vice versa, controlling for the stability of within-person RSA over time and individual differences in overall mean RSA. However, when children's externalizing behaviors were higher, coregulation was negative such that changes in real-time mother and child RSA showed divergence rather than positive concordance. Results suggest that mothers and preschoolers do coregulate RSA during real-time interactions, but that children's higher externalizing behavior problems are related to disruptions in these processes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/dev.21323DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4644512PMC
December 2015

Dyadic Flexibility in Early Parent-Child Interactions: Relations with Maternal Depressive Symptoms and Child Negativity and Behaviour Problems.

Infant Child Dev 2013 May;22(3):250-269

Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA.

Lower levels of parent-child affective flexibility indicate risk for children's problem outcomes. This short-term longitudinal study examined whether maternal depressive symptoms were related to lower levels of dyadic affective flexibility and positive affective content in mother-child problem-solving interactions at age 3.5 years (=100) and whether these maternal and dyadic factors predicted child emotional negativity and behaviour problems at a 4-month follow-up. Dyadic flexibility and positive affect were measured using dynamic systems-based modelling of second-by-second affective patterns during a mother-child problem-solving task. Results showed that higher levels of maternal depressive symptoms were related to lower levels of dyadic affective flexibility, which predicted children's higher levels of negativity and behaviour problems as rated by teachers. Mothers' ratings of child negativity and behaviour problems were predicted by their own depressive symptoms and individual child factors, but not by dyadic flexibility. There were no effects of dyadic positive affect. Findings highlight the importance of studying patterns in real-time dyadic parent-child interactions as potential mechanisms of risk in developmental psychopathology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/icd.1783DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3766850PMC
May 2013

Contingencies in Mother-Child Teaching Interactions and Behavior Regulation and Dysregulation in Early Childhood.

Soc Dev 2013 May;22(2):319-339

Colorado State University.

Predictable patterns in early parent-child interactions may help lay the foundation for how children learn to self-regulate. The present study examined contingencies between maternal teaching and directives and child compliance in mother-child problem-solving interactions at age 3.5 and whether they predicted children's behavioral regulation and dysregulation (inhibitory control and externalizing behaviors) as rated by mothers, fathers, and teachers at a 4-month follow-up ( = 100). The predictive utility of mother- and child-initiated contingencies was also compared to that of frequencies of individual mother and child behaviors. Structural equation models revealed that a higher probability that maternal directives were followed by child compliance predicted better child behavioral regulation, whereas the reverse pattern and the overall frequency of maternal directives did not. For teaching, stronger mother- and child-initiated contingencies and the overall frequency of maternal teaching all showed evidence for predicting better behavioral regulation. Findings depended on which caregiver was rating child outcomes. We conclude that dyadic measures are useful for understanding how parent-child interactions impact children's burgeoning regulatory abilities in early childhood.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/sode.12016DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3640584PMC
May 2013

Flexibility and attractors in context: family emotion socialization patterns and children's emotion regulation in late childhood.

Nonlinear Dynamics Psychol Life Sci 2012 Jul;16(3):269-91

Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO, USA.

Familial emotion socialization practices relate to children's emotion regulation (ER) skills in late childhood, however, we have more to learn about how the context and structure of these interactions relates to individual differences in children's ER. The present study examined flexibility and attractors in family emotion socialization patterns in three different conversational contexts and their relation to ER in 8-12 year olds. Flexibility was defined as dispersion across the repertoire of discrete emotion words and emotion socialization functions (emotion coaching, dismissing, and elaboration) in family conversation, whereas attractors were defined as the average duration per visit to each of these three emotion socialization functions using state space grid analysis. It was hypothesized that higher levels of flexibility in emotion socialization would buffer children's ER from the presence of maladaptive attractors, or the absence of adaptive attractors, in family emotion conversation. Flexibility was generally adaptive, related to children's higher ER across all contexts, and also buffered children from maladaptive attractors in select situations. Findings suggest that the study of dynamic interaction patterns in context may reveal adaptive versus maladaptive socialization processes in the family that can inform basic and applied research on children's regulatory problems.
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July 2012

Dyadic flexibility and positive affect in parent-child coregulation and the development of child behavior problems.

Dev Psychopathol 2011 May;23(2):577-91

Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1570, USA.

Parent-child dyadic rigidity and negative affect contribute to children's higher levels of externalizing problems. The present longitudinal study examined whether the opposite constructs of dyadic flexibility and positive affect predicted lower levels of externalizing behavior problems across the early childhood period. Mother-child (N = 163) and father-child (n = 94) dyads engaged in a challenging block design task at home when children were 3 years old. Dynamic systems methods were used to derive dyadic positive affect and three indicators of dyadic flexibility (range, dispersion, and transitions) from observational coding. We hypothesized that the interaction between dyadic flexibility and positive affect would predict lower levels of externalizing problems at age 5.5 years as rated by mothers and teachers, controlling for stability in externalizing problems, task time, child gender, and the child's effortful control. The hypothesis was supported in predicting teacher ratings of child externalizing from both mother-child and father-child interactions. There were also differential main effects for mothers and fathers: mother-child flexibility was detrimental and father-child flexibility was beneficial for child outcomes. Results support the inclusion of adaptive and dynamic parent-child coregulation processes in the study of children's early disruptive behavior.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S095457941100006XDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5895106PMC
May 2011

Individual differences in the development of early peer aggression: integrating contributions of self-regulation, theory of mind, and parenting.

Dev Psychopathol 2011 Feb;23(1):253-66

Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, 530 Church Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.

This prospective longitudinal study focused on self-regulatory, social-cognitive, and parenting precursors of individual differences in children's peer-directed aggression at early school age. Participants were 199 3-year-old boys and girls who were reassessed following the transition to kindergarten (5.5-6 years). Peer aggression was assessed in preschool and school settings using naturalistic observations and teacher reports. Children's self-regulation abilities and theory of mind understanding were assessed during a laboratory visit, and parenting risk (corporal punishment and low warmth/responsiveness) was assessed using interview-based and questionnaire measures. Individual differences in children's peer aggression were moderately stable across the preschool to school transition. Preschool-age children who manifested high levels of aggressive peer interactions also showed lower levels of self-regulation and theory of mind understanding, and experienced higher levels of adverse parenting than others. Our main finding was that early corporal punishment was associated with increased levels of peer aggression across the transition from preschool to school, as was the interaction between low maternal emotional support and children's early delays in theory of mind understanding. These data highlight the need for family-directed preventive efforts during the early preschool years.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0954579410000775DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4100535PMC
February 2011

Interactions between maternal parenting and children's early disruptive behavior: bidirectional associations across the transition from preschool to school entry.

J Abnorm Child Psychol 2009 Nov;37(8):1151-63

Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.

This study was a prospective 2-year longitudinal investigation of associations between negative maternal parenting and disruptive child behavior across the preschool to school transition. Our main goals were to 1) determine the direction of association between early maternal negativity and child disruptive behaviors across this important developmental transition and 2) examine whether there would be different patterns of associations for boys and girls. Participants were 235 children (111 girls; T1; M = 37.7 months, T2; M = 63.4 months) and their mothers and teachers. Observational and multi-informant ratings of child disruptive behavior showed differential patterns of stability and associations with measures of parenting risk. Results indicated bidirectional and interactive contributions of externalizing behavior and negative parenting across time. Results also indicated that risk mechanisms operate similarly for both sexes. Findings support transactional models of disruptive child behavior that highlight the joint contributions of parents and children.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10802-009-9332-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4133742PMC
November 2009

Collateral benefits of the Family Check-Up on early childhood school readiness: indirect effects of parents' positive behavior support.

Dev Psychol 2008 Nov;44(6):1737-52

Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1570, USA.

The authors examined the longitudinal effects of the Family Check-Up (FCU) on parents' positive behavior support and children's school readiness competencies in early childhood. It was hypothesized that the FCU would promote language skills and inhibitory control in children at risk for behavior problems as an indirect outcome associated with targeted improvements in parents' positive behavior support. High-risk families in the Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program participated in a multisite preventive intervention study (N = 731) with 3 yearly assessments beginning at child age 2 years. Positive behavior support was measured using 4 indicators derived from at-home observations of parent-child interaction during semistructured tasks. Longitudinal structural equation models revealed that parents in families randomly assigned to the FCU showed improvements in positive behavior support from child age 2 to 3, which in turn promoted children's inhibitory control and language development from age 3 to 4, accounting for child gender, ethnicity, and parental education. Findings suggest that a brief, ecological preventive intervention supporting positive parenting practices can indirectly foster key facets of school readiness in children at risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0013858DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2769930PMC
November 2008