Preschool children with and without developmental delay: behaviour problems, parents’ optimism and well-being

Authors


Dr Bruce L. Baker, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA (e-mail: Baker@psych.ucla.edu).

Abstract

Background  Children with intellectual disability are at heightened risk for behaviour problems, and these are known to increase parenting stress. This study explored the relation of behaviour problems to less child-related domains of parent well-being (depression and marital adjustment), as well as the moderating effect of a personality trait, dispositional optimism.

Method  Participating children (N = 214) were classified as developmentally delayed, borderline, or nondelayed. Mothers’ and fathers’ well-being and child behaviour problems were assessed at child ages 3 and 4 years.

Results  Parents of delayed and nondelayed preschoolers generally did not differ on depression or marital adjustment, but child behaviour problems were strongly related to scores on both measures. Optimism moderated this relationship, primarily for mothers. When child behaviour problems were high, mothers who were less optimistic reported lower scores on measures of well-being than did mothers who were more optimistic.

Conclusions  Interventions for parents that aim to enhance both parenting skills and psycholog- ical well-being should be available in preschool. It may be beneficial for such programmes to focus not only on behaviour management strategies aimed at child behaviour change, but also on parents’ belief systems, with the aim of increasing dispositional optimism.

Ancillary