Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Gretchen Gimpel Peacock


Gretchen Gimpel Peacock


There are numernus social, emotional, and behavioral problems toddlers and preschool children can exhibit. Some of the more common problems reported by parents of young children are daytime behavior problems and sleep disturbances. This study investigated sleep difficulties in toddler and preschool-age children with (n = 31) and without (n = 59) significant behavior problems. Furthermore, the current study investigated the relationship between sleep difficulties and other psychological constructs (i.e., maternal general stress, maternal depression, and parenting stress), which might be related to sleep and behavior problems. Mothers of clinically referred children with behavior problems and nonclinically referred children without behavior problems completed measures regarding their children's sleep and behavior as well as their own general stress, parenting stress, and depressive symptomology.

Overall, children with behavior problems showed significantly more sleep difficulties than children without behavior problems. Specifically, when compared to children without behavior problems, children with behavior problems took more time to initiate sleep, showed increased bedtime resistance, had more night wakings, and had shorter sleep durations. Additionally, the results showed that other factors (i.e., maternal depression, family stress, parent-child relationship stress) likely contribute to and/or maintain sleep disturbances in children. The findings from this study suggest a complex relationship between childhood sleep, daytime externalizing behaviors, and maternal health. Potential clinical implications of these findings and future directions for research are discussed.



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Psychology Commons