Researchers have begun to develop models that explain the processes by which interparental conflict impacts children's adjustment. The present study tested a model based on emotional security theory. The longitudinal relations among interparental conflict, boys' reactions to conflict, and internalizing and externalizing problems were examined in a sample of 129 mother-son dyads from low-income, 2-parent families from the time sons were age 2 to 5. Results indicated that children exposed to interparental conflict were more likely to have concurrent and later behavior problems and that patterns of interparental conflict across time made unique contributions in predicting later problems. Children's emotional reactivity in response to conflict had no direct relation to interparental conflict and only modest relations to behavior problems. However, interparental conflict and reactivity factors interacted to predict behavior problems at ages 3 1/2 and 5. Thus, some support was demonstrated for emotional reactivity as a moderator in the development of young children's behavior problems.
- Behavior problems
- Interparental conflict
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health