Attachment, Household Chaos, and Children’s Health

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Abstract

Introduction: Despite growing interest in the links between sociocontextual factors and children’s behavioral functioning, few studies have investigated how such factors, in combination, relate to health outcomes or vary across mental and physical well-being. We evaluated the direct and interactive associations of parental attachment and household chaos with preschool-age children’s mental and physical health. Method: Ninety-four parents completed questionnaires about their attachment styles, disorganization and confusion in the home, and their children’s health functioning. Results: Attachment avoidance and anxiety in parents predicted poorer mental health in children, particularly in highly chaotic homes. Moreover, parental attachment anxiety, but not avoidance, predicted poorer reported physical health in children and, in conjunction with chaotic homes, more hospitalizations. Discussion: The results help illuminate how multiple domains in children’s immediate environment jointly influence their physical and mental health and how these influences may vary across domains of functioning. Findings have implications for targeting interventions to have impact across facets of children’s health.

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