Developing adaptive behaviors are particularly important for children growing up in contexts of risk and adversity. This study examined the role of effective parenting for school success in a high-risk sample of children, focusing on co-regulation experiences with parents in relation to child self-regulation skills. In early childhood, it is largely through experiences of co-regulation within the caregiver-child relationship that children develop self-regulation. These skills are carried forward into other contexts of learning and development, including the school environment. The current thesis examined parent-child relationships among 138 families residing in emergency homeless shelter prior to the children entering kindergarten and first grade. Using observational data and state space grid methodology, I examined the parent-child relationship as a dynamic system with implications for children‟s school success and executive function (a central component of self-regulation). Results indicated that the positive co-regulation experiences were related to executive function capabilities and IQ in the child, which in turn were related to school outcomes. Parent responsiveness in particular was related to positive school outcomes. Person-oriented cluster analyses of individual state space grids revealed distinct types of dyads among the homeless families, highlighting individual differences in dyadic functioning. Findings support theory and earlier findings in developmental and resilience science implicating effective parenting in the acquisition of adaptive skills among children who overcome adversity, in part through processes of co-regulation that shape or scaffold the development of self-regulation and related cognitive skills in young children.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2011. Major: Child Psychology. Advisor: Ann S.Masten, Ph.D. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 154 pages, appendices A-C.
Herbers, Janette E..
Parent-child relationships in young homeless families: co-regulation as a predictor of child self-regulation and school adjustment.
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