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caregiver appraisal, child behavior, family characteristics, mothers, preschool children



  1. Coke, Sallie P.
  2. Moore, Leslie C.


Background: Children with vulnerable caregivers may be at risk for being labeled as having behavior problems when typical behaviors are viewed by their caregivers as problematic, and therefore, research examining the accuracy of the caregivers' perceptions of children's behaviors is needed.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to use the resiliency model of family stress, adjustment, and adaptation as the theoretical foundation to explore family factors associated with the primary female caregiver's appraisal of her child's behavior, the extent to which the primary female caregiver's appraisal of her child's behavior may be distorted, and the child's level of risk of having a behavioral problem.


Methods: A cross-sectional, correlational design was used. Data were collected from female caregivers of preschoolers (N = 117). Family factors, demographic characteristics, comfort in parenting, appraisal of behaviors, daily stress, parenting stress, depressive symptoms, social support, ratings of children's behaviors, and distortion in the ratings were measured. Associations were studied using ANOVA, ANCOVA, and chi-squared tests.


Results: Family typology was not associated with the female caregiver's appraisals of her child's behavior (p = .31). Distortion of the caregiver's rating of her child's behavior was not associated with family hardiness (high or low; p = .20.) but was associated with having a child with an elevated risk for behavioral problems (p < .01). Families classified as vulnerable were significantly more likely to have a child with elevated risks of having behavioral problems than families classified as secure or regenerative.


Discussion: Findings emphasized the association between family factors (hardiness and coherence) and young children's behaviors. Additional research is needed into how these factors affect the young child's behavior and what causes a caregiver to have a distorted view of her child's behavior.