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Mothers’ beliefs about emotions and authoritarian parenting as predictors of young children's behavioral problems

APA Citation:

Garner, P. W., Shadur, J. M., & Dunsmore, J. C. (2023). Mothers’ beliefs about emotions and authoritarian parenting as predictors of young children’s behavioral problems. Mental Health & Prevention, 30, Article 200264. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mhp.2023.200264

Abstract Created by REACH:

This study examined how mothers’ authoritarian parenting style (i.e., requiring obedience, low warmth toward child) and their beliefs about children’s emotions were related to their preschooler’s behavior problems. Mothers (N = 101; 33% military-affiliated) completed questionnaires on the degree of their authoritarian parenting and their beliefs about children’s emotions (i.e., children can control their emotions, can manage feelings on their own). Preschool teachers reported children’s behavior problems (i.e., conduct problems and peer problems). Overall, mothers’ authoritarian parenting and strong beliefs about children’s ability to control and manage their own emotions were particularly problematic for their preschool daughters’ peer relationships.



Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Child of a service member or veteran
Spouse of service member or veteran


Childhood (birth - 12 yrs)
School age (6 - 12 yrs)
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Cross sectional study
Quantitative Study


Garner, Pamela W., Shadur, Julia M., Dunsmore, Julie C.


The current study extends key models of parent emotion socialization and child outcomes by testing the interaction between maternal emotion beliefs, authoritarian parenting style, and child gender as a predictor of child behavioral difficulties. In this research, we focus on three maternal emotion beliefs (children can control their emotions, children should be given autonomy to deal with their emotions, and children's anger is valuable) and their associations with preschoolers’ conduct and peer problems, as well as potential moderation of these linkages by mothers’ authoritarian parenting and child gender. Participants included a community sample of mothers and their preschool children (N=103). Mothers reported their emotion beliefs and authoritarian parenting, and teachers reported on children's conduct and peer problems. Child negative emotionality was assessed through an observational task and was included as a covariate in all analyses. Maternal emotion control beliefs held as the only significant main effect of parenting on child outcomes that was not dependent upon child gender. Mothers’ beliefs about the value of anger related to girls’ peer problems when mothers also reported moderate and low levels of authoritarian parenting. Clinical implications suggest a particular focus on emotion beliefs and parenting style as uniquely important for preschool girls.

Publication Type:

REACH Publication


conduct problems, mothers’ emotion beliefs, parenting style, peer problems

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  August 2023

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