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Medium or high family risk is defined as having 2 or more risk factors as present in intake surveys in the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project (EHSREP). Previous research has shown that high and medium risk families are more prone to negative parent-child interactions (Steele et al., 2016), but mediating variables are not clear. We hypothesize that parental stress and familial conflict are significant mediating variables between family risk and parent-child interaction quality. We also suspect that stress will have a more significant effect (Mak et al., 2020). The present study used extant data from the EHSREP (N=3001) for our analysis. We utilized self-reports taken from the Parenting Stress Index (Abidin, 1995) as data for the stress variable. Family Environment Scale (Moos, 1974) data was used for the conflict variable. Parent Interactions with Children: Checklist of Observations (PICCOLO) scores at 36 months were used as a measure of parent-child interaction. Multiple regression and mediation analyses were the analysis methods chosen for this study. Our mediation analyses for FES measures revealed that family risk and conflict are correlated, but conflict was not correlated with PICCOLO scores at 36 months. Thus, family risk does lead to greater conflict, but greater conflict does not lead to lower PICCOLO scores at 36 months. Our mediation analysis for PSI data revealed that stress is a mediating variable between family risk and PICCOLO scores at 36 months. Family risk and PICCOLO scores at 36 months are strongly correlated. To reduce negative parent-child interactions, it may be prudent to provide stress management techniques to parents of at-risk families. Keywords: parent-child interaction, parental stress, family conflict, family risk, mediation, parenting as a teen, living alone, public assistance, limited education, not working, not in school.


Utah State University

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Mediating Factors of Family Risk and Parent-Child Interaction Quality

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