Externalizing symptoms, such as aggression, impulsivity, and inattention, represent the most common forms of childhood maladjustment (Campbell et al. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 467–488, 2000). Several dimensions of parenting behavior, including overreactive and warm parenting, have been linked to children’s conduct problems. However, the majority of these studies involve biologically-related family members, thereby limiting understanding of the role of genetic and/or environmental underpinnings of parenting on child psychopathology. This study extends previous research by exploring associations between overreactive and warm parenting during toddlerhood and school-age externalizing problems, as well as the potential moderating effects of child effortful control (EC) on such associations using a longitudinal adoption design. The sample consisted of 225 adoption-linked families (adoptive parents, adopted child [124 male and 101 female] and birth parent[s]), thereby allowing for a more precise estimate of environmental influences on the association between parenting and child externalizing problems. Adoptive mothers’ warm parenting at 27 months predicted lower levels of child externalizing problems at ages 6 and 7. Child EC moderated this association in relation to teacher reports of school-age externalizing problems. Findings corroborate prior research with biological families that was not designed to unpack genetic and environmental influences on associations between parenting and child externalizing problems during childhood, highlighting the important role of parental warmth as an environmental influence.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health