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Head Start parents' vocational preparedness indirectly predicts preschoolers' physical and relational aggression


Severe poverty has profound impacts on child outcomes, yet much of the research on poverty fails to consider the psychological experiences of poverty, frames low-socioeconomic status families as a monolith, and until recently, has not considered the utility of behavior within the poverty context. This short-term (4 months) longitudinal study was designed to consider children's aggression as predicted by their inhibitory control (IC) and parents' experiences of poverty-related strain in an urban Head Start sample. At Time 1, parents reported on their family's economic situation (income, family size), education, vocational preparedness, and completed a measure of psychological economic strain; children (N = 90; Mage = 52.78 months) completed two IC tasks (Day/Night Stroop; Whisper). Four months later, parents completed the Preschool Proactive and Reactive Aggression survey, used to assess children's physical and relational aggression. Mediation analyses supported that physical and relational aggression were both fully mediated from parents' vocational preparedness, though through different mechanisms. Physical aggression was mediated by parents' psychological economic strain. Relational aggression was mediated through children's IC. Findings support the proposal that aggression should be viewed within context and that typical assumptions about developmental patterns of physical aggression may not hold for all children. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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