Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 2046–2054 | Cite as

The Relation Between Parenting Stress, Locus of Control and Child Outcomes: Predictors of Change in a Parenting Intervention

  • Angela D. Moreland
  • Julia W. Felton
  • Rochelle F. Hanson
  • Carrie Jackson
  • Jean E. Dumas
Original Paper


This study examines the relationship among parent stress, parent locus of control, child disruptive behaviors, and child coping competence over the course of an 8-week parenting program. We predicted that parent stress and parent locus of control are correlated, decreases in parent stress and increases in parent internal locus of control predict increases in child coping competence, and decreases in child disruptive behavior and higher levels of internal parent LOC would relate to decreases in parent stress level. Measures and data from the original Parenting Our Children to Excellence study were used. The study found decreasing parent stress and increasing parent internal locus of control lead to positive changes in child outcomes, and decreasing parent stress changes their attributions of control. To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine changes in parent stress and locus of control, regarding child coping competence and child disruptive behavior, over time.


Parenting Parent stress Parent locus of control Child disruptive behavior Child coping 



This study would not have been possible without the collaboration of Marsha Hearn-Lindsey, Director, Child Care Answers, Indianapolis, of all the parents and children who participated in various aspects of the research, and of staff members who played major roles in data collection and program implementation, including Amanda Mosby, Sharon Hampton, and Stephanie Wynder. Their help and encouragement are gratefully acknowledged. This study was supported by Grant R49/CCR 522339 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the second author. The support and encouragement of Linda Anne Valle, Ph.D., and Michele Hoover is gratefully acknowledged.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts of interest to report.


  1. Abidin, R. R. (1990). Parenting Stress Index, third edition: Professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources Inc.Google Scholar
  2. Abidin, R. R. (1995). Parenting Stress Index. Lutz, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources Inc.Google Scholar
  3. Abidin, R. R. (1997). Parenting Stress Index: A measure of the parent–child system. In C. P. Zalaquett & R. J. Wood (Eds.), Evaluating stress: A book of resources (pp. 277–291). Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Education.Google Scholar
  4. Begle, A. M., & Dumas, J. E. (2011). Child and parental outcomes following involvement in a preventive intervention: Efficacy of the PACE program. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 32(2), 67–81.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Begle, A. M., Dumas, J. E., & Hanson, R. F. (2010). Predicting child abuse potential: An empirical investigation of two theoretical frameworks. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 39(2), 208–219.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Berkovits, M. D., O’Brien, K. A., Carter, C. G., & Eyberg, S. M. (2010). Early identification and intervention for behavior problems in primary care: A comparison of two abbreviated versions of parent–child interaction therapy. Behavior Therapy, 41(3), 375–387.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Boggs, S. R., Eyberg, S. M., Edwards, D. L., Rayfield, A., Jacobs, J., Bagner, D., & Hood, K. K. (2005). Outcomes of parent–child interaction therapy: A comparison of treatment completers and study dropouts one to three years later. Child and Family Behavior Therapy, 26(4), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bugental, D. B., Caporael, L., & Shennum, W. A. (1980). Experimentally produced child uncontrollability: Effects on the potency of adult communication patterns. Child Development, 51(2), 520–528.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Bywater, T., Hutchings, J., Daley, D., Whitaker, C., Yeo, S. T., Jones, K., et al. (2009). Long-term effectiveness of a parenting intervention for children at risk of developing conduct disorder. British Journal of Psychiatry, 195(4), 318–324.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Campis, L. K., Lyman, R. D., & Prentice-Dunn, S. (1986). The Parental Locus of Control Scale: Development and validation. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 15(3), 260–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cappa, K. A., Begle, A. M., Conger, J. C., Dumas, J. E., & Conger, A. J. (2011). Bidirectional relationships between parenting stress and child coping competence: Findings from the PACE study. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 20(3), 334–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  13. Cole, D. A., & Maxwell, S. E. (2003). Testing mediational models with longitudinal data: Questions and tips in the use of structural equation modeling. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 112(4), 558–577.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Crnic, K., & Low, C. (2002). Everyday stresses and parenting. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of parenting: Vol. 2005: Practical issues in parenting (2nd ed., pp. 2243–2267). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.Google Scholar
  15. Curran, P. J., & Hussong, A. M. (2003). The use of latent trajectory models in psychopathology research. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 112(4), 526–544.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. Curren, P. J., West, S. G., & Finch, J. F. (1996). The robustness of test statistics to nonnormality and specification error in confirmatory factor analysis. Psychological Methods, 1, 16–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Deater-Deckard, K. (1998). Parenting stress and child adjustment: Some old hypotheses and new questions. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 5(3), 314–332.Google Scholar
  18. Dishion, T. J., Shaw, D., Connell, A., Gardner, F., Weaver, C., & Wilson, M. (2008). The family check-up with high-risk indigent families: Preventing problem behavior by increasing parents’ positive behavior support in early childhood. Child Development, 79(5), 1395–1414.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. Dunn, M. E., Burbine, T., Bowers, C. A., & Tantleff-Dunn, S. (2001). Moderators of stress in parents of children with autism. Community Mental Health Journal, 37(1), 39–52.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. DuPaul, G. J., McGoey, K. E., Eckert, T. L., & VanBrakle, J. (2001). Preschool children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Impairments in behavioral, social, and school functioning. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 40, 508–515.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Eisert, D. C., Sturner, R. A., & Mabe, P. A. (1991). Questionnaires in behavioral pediatrics: Guidelines for selection and use. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 12(1), 42–50.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Eyberg, S. M., & Pincus, D. (1999). Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory and Sutter–Eyberg student behavior inventory-revised: Professional manual. Lutz, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.Google Scholar
  23. Folkman, S. (1984). Personal control and coping processes: A theoretical analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46(4), 839–852.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Freed, R. D., & Tompson, M. C. (2011). Predictors of parental locus of control in mothers of pre- and early adolescents. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 40(1), 100–110.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  25. Funderburk, B. W., Eyberg, S. M., Rich, B. A., & Behar, L. (2003). Further psychometric evaluation of the Eyberg and Behar rating scales for parents and teachers of preschoolers. Early Education and Development, 14(1), 67–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gardner, F., Burton, J., & Klimes, I. (2006). Randomized controlled trial of a parenting intervention in the voluntary sector for reducing child conduct problems: Outcomes and mechanisms of change. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47(11), 1123–1132.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Gardner, F., Hutchings, J., Bywater, T., & Whitaker, C. (2010). Who benefits and how does it work? Moderators and mediators of outcome in an effectiveness trial of a parenting intervention. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 39(4), 568–580.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Gardner, F., Shaw, D. S., Dishion, T. J., Burton, J., & Supplee, L. (2007). Randomized prevention trial for early conduct problems: Effects on proactive parenting and links to toddler disruptive behavior. Journal of Family Psychology, 21(3), 398–406.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Hagekull, B., Bohlin, G., & Hammarberg, A. (2001). The role of parental perceived control in child development: A longitudinal study. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 25(5), 429–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hamlyn-Wright, S., Draghi-Lorenz, R., & Ellis, J. (2007). Locus of control fails to mediate between stress and anxiety and depression in parents of children with a developmental disorder. Autism, 11(6), 489–501.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Hassell, R., Rose, J., & McDonald, J. (2005). Parenting stress in mothers of children with an intellectual disability: The effects of parental cognitions in relation to child characteristics and family support. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 49, 405–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jouriles, E. N., McDonald, R., Rosenfield, D., Norwood, W. D., Spiller, L., Stephens, N., et al. (2010). Improving parenting in families referred for child maltreatment: A randomized controlled trial examining effects of project support. Journal of Family Psychology, 24(3), 328–338.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Kaminski, J. W., Valle, L. A., Filene, J. H., & Boyle, C. L. (2008). A meta-analytic review of components associated with parent training program effectiveness. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36, 567–589.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Kashdan, T. B., Jacob, R. G., Pelham, W. E., Lang, A. R., Hoza, B., Blumenthal, J. D., & Gnagy, E. M. (2004). Depression and anxiety in parents of children with ADHD and varying levels of oppositional defiant behaviors: Modeling relationships with family functioning. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 33(1), 169–181.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Kokkinos, C. M., & Panayiotou, G. (2007). Parental discipline practices and locus of control: Relationship to bullying and victimization experiences of elementary school students. Social Psychology of Education, 10(3), 281–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McArdle, J. J. (2009). Latent variable modeling of differences and changes with longitudinal data. Annual review of psychology, 60, 577–605.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Moreland, A. D. & Dumas, J. E. (2007). Evaluating child coping competence: Theory and measurement. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 17, 437–454. doi: 10.1007/s10826-007-9165-y.
  38. Moreland, A. D. & Dumas, J. E. (2008). Categorical and Dimensional Approaches to the Measurement of Disruptive Behavior in the Preschool Years: A Meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 28, 1059–1070. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2008.03.001.
  39. Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (2010). Mplus user's guide: Statistical analysis with latent variables: User’s guide. Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
  40. Webster-Stratton, C. (1992). Individually administered videotape parent training: “Who benefits?”. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 16(1), 31–52.Google Scholar
  41. Podolski, C., & Nigg, J. T. (2001). Parent stress and coping in relation to child ADHD severity and associated child disruptive behavior problems. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 30, 503–513.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Reid, M. J., Webster-Stratton, C., & Baydar, N. (2004). Halting the development of conduct problems in head start children: The effects of parent training. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 33(2), 279–291.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Robinson, J. P., Shaver, P. R., & Wrightsman, L. S. (1991). Measures of personality and social psychological attitudes (p. 753). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  44. Rotter, J. B. (1966). Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 80(1), 1–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sanders, M. R. (1999). Triple P-positive parenting program: Towards an empirically validated multilevel parenting and family support strategy for the prevention of behavior and emotional problems in children. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 2(2), 71–90.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Sandler, I., Wolchik, S., & Schoenfelder, E. (2011). Evidence-based family-focused prevention programs for children. Annual Review of Psychology, 62(1), 299–329.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  47. Stormshak, E. A., Bierman, K. L., McMahon, R. J., & Lengua, L. J. (2000). Parenting practices and child disruptive behavior problems in early elementary school. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 29(1), 17–29.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  48. Visconti, K. J., Saudino, K. J., Rappaport, L. A., Newburger, J. W., & Bellinger, D. (2002). Influence of parental stress and social support on the behavioral adjustment of children with transposition of the great arteries. Development and Behavioral Pediatrics, 23, 314–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Webster-Stratton, C., & Lindsay, D. W. (1999). Social competence and conduct problems in young children: Issues in assessment. Journal of clinical child psychology, 28(1), 25–43.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Weersing, V. R., & Weisz, J. R. (2002). Mechanisms of action in youth psychotherapy. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 43(1), 3–29.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Williford, A. P., Calkins, S. D., & Keane, S. P. (2007). Predicting change in parenting stress across early childhood: Child and maternal factors. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology: An official publication of the International Society for Research in Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, 35(2), 251–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zeman, J., Shipman, K., & Suveg, C. (2002). Anger and sadness regulation: Predictions to internalizing and externalizing symptoms in children. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 31(3), 393–398.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angela D. Moreland
    • 1
  • Julia W. Felton
    • 2
  • Rochelle F. Hanson
    • 1
  • Carrie Jackson
    • 1
  • Jean E. Dumas
    • 1
  1. 1.Medical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Maryland, College ParkCollege ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations