Structured parent-child observations predict development of conduct problems: The importance of parental negative attention in child-directed play.
Fleming, A. P., McMahon, R. J., & King, K. M. (2017). Structured parent-child observations predict development of conduct problems: The importance of parental negative attention in child-directed play. Prevention Science, 18(3), 257-267.
Abstract: Structured observations of parent-child interactions are commonly used in research and clinical settings, but require additional empirical support. The current study examined the capacity of child-directed play, parent-directed play, and parent-directed chore interaction analogs to uniquely predict the development of conduct problems across a 6-year follow-up period. Parent-child observations were collected from 338 families from high-risk neighborhoods during the summer following the child's first-grade year. Participating children were 49.2 % female, 54.4 % white, and 45.6 % black, and had an average age of 7.52 years at the first assessment. Conduct problems were assessed via parent report and teacher report at five assessment points between first grade and seventh grade. Latent growth curve modeling was used to analyze predictors of conduct problem trajectory across this 6-year follow-up period. When race, sex, socioeconomic status, and maternal depressive symptoms were controlled, parental negative attention during child-directed play predicted higher levels of parent-reported conduct problems concurrently and after a 6-year follow-up period. Parental negative attention during child-directed play also predicted higher teacher-reported conduct problems 6 years later. Findings support the use of child-directed play and parent-directed chore analogs in predicting longitudinal development of conduct problems. The presence of parental negative attention during child-directed play appears to be an especially important predictor of greater conduct problems over time and across multiple domains. Additionally, the potential importance of task-incongruent behavior is proposed for further study.