Dimensions of Parenting Associated with Child Prekindergarten Emotion Regulation and Attention Control in Low-income Families

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Delays in emotion regulation and attention control are common among children growing up in poverty, and they contribute to significant socioeconomic gaps in school readiness and later school attainment. In this study, the emotion regulation and attention control skills of 210 prekindergarten Head Start participants were assessed (M age = 4.80 years old). Home interviews and videotaped parent–child interactions were used to evaluate three aspects of parenting (e.g., warm-sensitive, directive-critical, and parenting stress). Structural equation models documented significant, unique associations linking directive-critical parenting and parenting stress with poor child emotion regulation skills. Directive-critical parenting was also uniquely associated with low levels of child attention control. Warm-sensitive parenting was not uniquely related to either emotion regulation or attention control at this age. The findings suggest that, by prekindergarten, parent stress management and reduced directiveness emerge as the primary correlates of child emotion regulation and attention control whereas warm-sensitive parenting plays a diminished role.

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