The manner in which parents adapt to the experience of caring for a child with an intellectual disability is generally thought to depend upon a range of variables typically conceptualized within multi-dimensional models. This review briefly describes three such models that share significant common features, incorporating child variables, environmental characteristics, and parental cognitive processes as contributors to parental coping styles or parenting stress. The effects of child and environmental characteristics on parenting stress and coping in parents of children with disabilities have been well documented. It is argued, however, that some aspects of cognitive processes in parents of these children have received less attention from researchers. In particular, there has been a large amount of research into parenting self-esteem, parental attributions, and parental locus of control with parents of other groups of children. This research is reviewed, and it is argued that further research into similar cognitions in parents of children with intellectual disabilities is warranted. Finally, the potential clinical implications of such research are examined in relation to behavioural interventions for children's behavioural difficulties. It is suggested that parental cognitions may influence the acceptability of such interventions and also be associated with their effectiveness.
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