The Relationship of Parental Warm Responsiveness and Negativity to Emerging Behavior Problems Following Traumatic Brain Injury in Young Children
Parenting behaviors play a critical role in the child's behavioral development, particularly for children with neurological deficits. This study examined the relationship of parental warm responsiveness and negativity to changes in behavior following traumatic brain injury (TBI) in young children relative to an age-matched cohort of children with orthopedic injuries (OI). It was hypothesized that responsive parenting would buffer the adverse effects of TBI on child behavior, whereas parental negativity would exacerbate these effects. Children, ages 3-7 years, hospitalized for TBI (n = 80) or OI (n = 113), were seen acutely and again 6 months later. Parent-child dyads were videotaped during free play. Parents completed behavior ratings (Child Behavior Checklist; T. M. Achenbach & L. A. Rescorla, 2001) at both visits, with baseline ratings reflecting preinjury behavior. Hypotheses were tested using multiple regression, with preinjury behavior ratings, race, income, child IQ, family functioning, and acute parental distress serving as covariates. Parental responsiveness and negativity had stronger associations with emerging externalizing behaviors and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms among children with severe TBI. Findings suggest that parenting quality may facilitate or impede behavioral recovery following early TBI. Interventions that increase positive parenting may partially ameliorate emerging behavior problems.
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