Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 1283–1293 | Cite as

Internalizing and Externalizing Behaviors among Ukrainian Children: The Role of Family Communication and Maternal Coping

  • Viktor BurlakaEmail author
  • Qi Wu
  • Shiyou Wu
  • Iuliia Churakova
Original Paper



This study aims to explore the relationship of mother’s ways of coping with stress and family communication with the child internalizing and externalizing behaviors in Ukraine.


In a cross-sectional sample of 294 mother-and-child (9–16 years of age) Ukrainian dyads, mothers answered questions from the revised Ways of Coping Checklist, FACES Family Communication scale, Child Behavior Checklist, and questions about their sociodemographic characteristics.


Robust regression results suggest increased internalizing behaviors were statistically associated with poor family communication (b = −.19, 95% CI [−.30, −.08], p < .01), maternal coping by accepting responsibility (b = 2.14, 95% CI [.44, 3.84], p < 0.05), escape-avoidance (b = 3.79, 95% CI [1.00, 6.58], p < 0.01), planful problem solving (b = 2.80, 95% CI [.61, 4.99], p < 0.05), child female gender (b = −2.53, 95% CI [−4.22, −.83], p < .01) and lower family income (b = −.003, 95% CI [−.006, −.0001], p < .01). Increased child externalizing behaviors were statistically associated with maternal seeking social support (b = 3.25, 95% CI [1.06, 5.43], p < .01), decreased positive reappraisal (b = −1.52, 95% CI [−2.91, −.12], p < .05), maternal unemployment (b = −2.80, 95% CI [−5.30, −.30], p < .05), poor family communication (b = −.46, 95% CI [−.59, −.34], p < .001), and child male gender (b = 3.48, 95% CI [1.53, 5.44], p < .01). Poor family communication was linked with significantly higher increase in internalizing behaviors for girls compared to boys (b = .17, 95% CI [.03, .32], p < .05).


When examining child internalizing and externalizing behaviors it is important to consider the role of family communication and maternal coping.


Child mental health Children and families Coping Family communication Ukraine 



The present study was supported in part by grant 1D43 TW009310 from the Fogarty International Center, the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Principal Investigators: Robert Zucker, PhD and Maureen Walton, PhD).

Author Contributions

V.B. designed the study, assisted with the data analyses, and wrote the paper. Q.W. and S.W. analyzed the data and wrote part of method and results sections. I.C. contributed with the design and writing of the study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The study was approved by the Ukrainian Methodological Psycho-medico-pedagogical Center of the Department of Education.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social WorkUniversity of MississippiOxfordUSA
  2. 2.School of Social WorkArizona State UniversityPhoenixUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation ManagementUniversity of MississippiOxfordUSA
  4. 4.School of Social WorkWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  5. 5.College of EducationWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA

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