Organized Chaos: Daily Routines Link Household Chaos and Child Behavior Problems

  • Kristy L. LarsenEmail author
  • Sara S. Jordan
Original Paper



The aim of this study was to examine daily routines as a potential mediator of the relation between household chaos and both child externalizing behavior and bedtime resistant behavior. Studies show that children living in chaotic households exhibit more externalizing behaviors, which when exhibited as early as the toddler and preschool years, are a risk factor for later maladjustment. Understanding the mechanisms linking household chaos to early externalizing behaviors is important since those mechanisms could be targeted as a point of intervention.


Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (Mturk), parents (n = 120) of a child age 2–5 completed questionnaires online assessing household chaos, frequency of routines, and child behavior problems.


There was a significant indirect effect of household chaos to child behavior problems through family routines (B = 0.09, SE = 0.05, CI [0.01, 0.23]) and general child routines (B = 0.15, SE = 0.06, CI [0.05, 0.31]) (independently) and an indirect effect of household chaos to bedtime resistant behavior through children’s bedtime routines (B = 0.12, SE = 0.06, CI [0.03, 0.26]).


These findings suggest that household chaos and routines are distinctive constructs and that routines are a mechanism linking household chaos to early child behavior problems. Clinically, these results imply that routines may be a reasonable focus for intervention among families living in chaotic households who have young children exhibiting behavior problems.


Household chaos Routines Behavior problems Bedtime resistance Child 


Author Contributions

KLL: designed and executed the study, completed data analyses, and wrote the paper. SSJ: assisted with study design, and collaborated on data analyses and writing and editing of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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 (University of Southern Mississippi Institutional Review Board Protocol #17052302) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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 PsychologyUniversity of Southern MississippiHattiesburgUSA

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