Breaking the Cycle: Crime Prevention through Positive Parenting and Self-Control in Early Childhood Restricted; Files Only

Brown, April (Summer 2022)

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A developmental process approach to externalizing behaviors and criminal offending recognizes that intergenerational and early life risks – such as maternal childhood maltreatment, negative affectivity, and low self-control – can lead to a cascade of problematic behaviors across the life span, including criminal offending. Warm and sensitive parenting has been consistently cited as a protective factor in this risk process, but studies that focus on predictors of self-control during toddlerhood (ages 2, 3, and 4) in the context of maternal childhood maltreatment are needed. This study assessed associations between maternal childhood maltreatment, child negative affectivity, and aspects of self-control – i.e., inhibition, emotional control, delay of gratification, and global executive functioning – within a sample of 144 African American mother-child dyads. Results indicated that maternal childhood maltreatment was positively associated with child negative affectivity and emotion dysregulation. Child negative affectivity was associated with increased emotion dysregulation. Child emotion dysregulation was associated with disinhibition, which in turn was associated with child negative affectivity among children with low positive parenting. Children with more positive parenting, however, were more likely to delay gratification, and the ability to delay gratification was associated with better global executive functioning. Maternal childhood maltreatment, child negative affectivity, and child self-control are important factors along the path to problematic behavior. Positive parenting and child executive functioning may be important targets for prevention efforts that can begin very early in life before problematic behavior has downstream effects and cumulative consequences.

Table of Contents

Introduction    1

Theoretical Context: Established Risk and Protective Factors           2

Targeting the Family System  8

Bridging the Gap: The Present Study 16

Method           17

Study Design   17

Measures        18

Data Analyses 22

Results 23

Preliminary Analyses  23

Hypothesis Testing     25

Aim 1:  25

Aim 2   31

Aim 3   34

Discussion       39

Hot versus Cool: Bifurcation and the Manifestation of Self-Control 42

Maternal Childhood Maltreatment, Child Negative Affectivity, and Emotional Control      47

A Dynamic Systems Perspective of Developing Self-Control: The Role of Parenting 51

A Modified Conceptual Framework   62

Clinical Implications and Intervention Planning         65

Strengths, Limitations, and Future Directions           66

References      69


Table 1 23

Table 2 24

Table 3 26

Table 6 30

Table 7 31

Table 8 32

Table 9 33

Table 10          35

Table 11          36

Table 12          38


Figure 1           7

Figure 2           17

Figure 3           27

Figure 4           27

Figure 5           29

Figure 6           30

Figure 7           35

Figure 8           36

Figure 9           37

Figure 10         39

Figure 11         62

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