Bidirectional Relations Between Observed Parenting and Children's Symptoms of Behavioral Disorders
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- Institutt for psykologi 
Behavioral disorders are prevalent in preschoolers. Parenting has repeatedly shown to affect the development and continuity of these disorders, but developmental theories also emphasize transactional processes whereby the child affects the parent. The purpose of the present study was therefore to test the bidirectional relations between parental hostility and structuring, and symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD), in a large and representative sample of 4-year-olds (n = 997) in Trondheim, Norway, followed up two years later. Child symptoms of behavioral disorders were assessed by the Preschool Age Psychiatric Assessment (PAPA) interview, and parental hostility and structuring were rated from videotaped parent-child interactions using the Emotional Availability Scales (EAS). Analyses were conducted using an autoregressive cross-lagged analysis within a structural equation modeling (SEM) framework. Results revealed that parental hostility and structuring when the children were 4 years old did not predict child symptoms of ADHD, ODD or CD two years later. However, evidence was found for the opposite direction of influence: Symptoms of ODD at age 4 predicted lower levels of parental structuring at age 6 when initial levels were adjusted for. Symptoms of ADHD and CD did not predict parental structuring, and none of the behavioral disorders predicted parental hostility. No gender differences were found. Findings are discussed in relation to relevant theory, as well as research on bidirectional relations between parenting and child behavioral disorders.