Title: A Novel Smartphone-Based Assessment of Parent-Child Dynamics
Legend: Figure on top left compares two participants, one demonstrating consistent and another demonstrating inconsistent warm parenting over the course of one week. Figures on bottom left show the association of child ADHD status (left) and parenting-related stress (right) as they pertain to inconsistency in warm parenting. The middle right figure shows a screenshot of the smartphone application that we developed to assess parent-child dynamics over the course of one week.
Citation: Li, J. J. & Lansford, J. E. (in press). A Smartphone-Based Ecological Momentary Assessment of Parental Behavioral Consistency: Associations with Parental Stress and Child ADHD Symptoms. Developmental Psychology. Preprint: https://osf.io/7kxju/
Abstract: Inconsistent parental discipline is a robust correlate of child attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms, but few studies have considered the role of inconsistent positive parenting on ADHD, as well as the effects of stress on negative and positive parental consistency. This study advanced a novel ecological momentary assessment (EMA) using participant smartphones to measure parental consistency and examined its associations with family, social and parenting-related dimensions of stress and child ADHD symptoms. Participants were 184 kindergartners with or without ADHD and their parents. Harsh and warm dimensions of parental behavior were assessed using questionnaires, observations, and an EMA administered through parents’ smartphones, which measured parent-child behaviors every day for a period of one week. Family, social and parenting-related stress was assessed from questionnaires, and child ADHD symptoms were assessed from a fully structured diagnostic interview with the parent. Child ADHD symptoms were associated with variability in warm parenting behaviors, and higher levels of parenting-related stress were related to greater variability in harsh parenting behaviors. No significant interactions were detected between parental stress and child ADHD on parental variability. These findings suggest that different factors influence the consistency in parenting behavior, depending on whether positive parenting or negative parenting is assessed. Parent-based treatment programs for children with ADHD should include a stronger focus on reducing stress from parenting (e.g., teaching coping skills for parents), as this may lead to greater consistency in parental behavior more generally and presumably better child outcomes.
About the Lab: Li’s lab (the Social and Behavioral Development Lab) investigates genetic and environmental factors that contribute to the development of child externalizing disorders (e.g., attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder). Research in the lab utilizes molecular genetic approaches (e.g., genome-wide association scans, gene-pathway analysis) to advance understanding about the genetic architecture underlying complex developmental phenomena. They also focus on rigorous measurements of early environmental influences as they relate to child behavioral problems, not only for risk factors such as negative parenting and maltreatment, but also for enriched factors such as positive parenting and social support. The goal of this research is to understand how genes and environments independently and interactively influence variation in child social and behavioral development, and to ultimately bridge the substantial gap between genetics/neuroscience and prevention/intervention.