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Discipline as a mediator of the impact of maternal stress and mood on child conduct problems

  • James Snyder (a1)


Using a within-subject, time series approach, two competing models concerning the temporal relations between maternal distress (mood and stress), maternal discipline, and child conduct problems were assessed. Two measures of each of these constructs were collected at 10 assessment points, each separated by 3 to 4 days, in each of 10 single-parent families with a 4- to 5-year-old conduct problem child. After standardizing each of the measures over repeated assessment points in each family and aggregating the data across families, the models were tested using correlational and structural equation analyses. The fit of the data to the models supported the hypothesis that the association of maternal distress with child conduct problems is mediated by her disciplinary practices. On days when mothers reported more negative mood and stress, they were more likely to demonstrate poor disciplinary tactics. Temporal variation in discipline was, in turn, related to same-day variation in the frequency of child conduct problems. However, the model hypothesizing a direct relationship from maternal distress to child problems in addition to the indirect path through discipline was also supported, suggesting that maternal discipline is not the sole mediating variable.


Corresponding author

Address reprint requests to: James Snyder, Department of Psychology, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS 67208.


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