Troubled family interaction during toddlerhood

Jay Belsky, Sharon Woodworth, Keith Crnic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


To examine the antecedents and consequences of troubled family interaction during the "terrible twos," 64 of 69 families rearing firstborn sons who were observed in the child's second year of life were observed again in the child's third year. Cluster analysis of parent and child behavior scores was used once more to identify families whose parent-child interactions during parental efforts to control the child looked "troubled" at 27 and/or 33 months so that chronicity of troubled family interaction across the second and third year of life could be appraised. Nine predictor variables suggested by Belsky's model of the determinants of parenting, measured at the end of the first year of life, along with social class, were found to powerfully discriminate families that were troubled never or once from those who were troubled twice from those who were troubled three to four times across the four measurement occasions. Child externalizing problem behavior at 3 years of age was found to be almost monotonically related to chronicity of troubled family interaction, irrespective of whether problem behaviors were reported by mothers, fathers, or daycare providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)477-495
Number of pages19
JournalDevelopment and psychopathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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