Early parental positive behavior support and childhood adjustment: Addressing enduring questions with new methods

Rebecca Waller, Frances Gardner, Thomas Dishion, Stephanie L. Sitnick, Daniel S. Shaw, Charlotte E. Winter, Melvin Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


A large literature provides strong empirical support for the influence of parenting on child outcomes. The current study addresses enduring research questions testing the importance of early parenting behavior to children's adjustment. Specifically, we developed and tested a novel multi-method observational measure of parental positive behavior support at age 2. Next, we tested whether early parental positive behavior support was related to child adjustment at school age, within a multi-agent and multi-method measurement approach and design. Observational and parent-reported data from mother-child dyads (N = 731; 49 percent female) were collected from a high-risk sample at age 2. Follow-up data were collected via teacher report and child assessment at age 7.5. The results supported combining three different observational methods to assess positive behavior support at age 2 within a latent factor. Further, parents' observed positive behavior support at age 2 predicted multiple types of teacher-reported and child-assessed problem behavior and competencies at 7.5 years old. Results supported the validity and predictive capability of a multi-method observational measure of parenting and the importance of a continued focus on the early years within preventive interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-322
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Cognitive development
  • Observational methods
  • Parenting
  • Social competence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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