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Parental separation and children’s behavioral/emotional problems: the impact of parental representations and family conflict


Stadelmann, S; Perren, S; Groeben, M; von Klitzing, K (2010). Parental separation and children’s behavioral/emotional problems: the impact of parental representations and family conflict. Family Process, 49(1):92-108.

Abstract

In this longitudinal study, we examine whether the effect of parental separation on kindergarten children’s behavioral/emotional problems varies according to the level of family conflict, and children’s parental representations. One hundred and eighty seven children were assessed at ages 5 and 6. Family conflict was assessed using parents’ ratings. Children’s parental representations were assessed using a story-stem task. A multiinformant approach (parent, teacher, child) was employed to assess children’s be- havioral/emotional problems. Bivariate results showed that separation, family conflict, and negative parental representations were associated with children’s behavioral/emo- tional problems. However, in multivariate analyses, when controlling for gender and symptoms at age 5, we found that children of separated parents who showed negative parental representations had a significantly greater increase in conduct problems between 5 and 6 than all other children. In terms of emotional symptoms and hyperactivity, symptoms at 5 and (for hyperactivity only) gender were the only predictors for symptoms 1 year later. Our results suggest that kindergarten children’s representations of parent- child relationships moderate the impact of parental separation on the development of conduct problems, and underline play and narration as a possible route to access the thoughts and feelings of young children faced with parental separation.

In this longitudinal study, we examine whether the effect of parental separation on kindergarten children’s behavioral/emotional problems varies according to the level of family conflict, and children’s parental representations. One hundred and eighty seven children were assessed at ages 5 and 6. Family conflict was assessed using parents’ ratings. Children’s parental representations were assessed using a story-stem task. A multiinformant approach (parent, teacher, child) was employed to assess children’s be- havioral/emotional problems. Bivariate results showed that separation, family conflict, and negative parental representations were associated with children’s behavioral/emo- tional problems. However, in multivariate analyses, when controlling for gender and symptoms at age 5, we found that children of separated parents who showed negative parental representations had a significantly greater increase in conduct problems between 5 and 6 than all other children. In terms of emotional symptoms and hyperactivity, symptoms at 5 and (for hyperactivity only) gender were the only predictors for symptoms 1 year later. Our results suggest that kindergarten children’s representations of parent- child relationships moderate the impact of parental separation on the development of conduct problems, and underline play and narration as a possible route to access the thoughts and feelings of young children faced with parental separation.

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12 citations in Web of Science®
17 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development
Dewey Decimal Classification:370 Education
Language:English
Date:2010
Deposited On:28 Jan 2011 10:57
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:28
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0014-7370
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1545-5300.2010.01310.x
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-40252

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