UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Mother and father attributions for child misbehavior : relations to child internalizing and externalizing problems Colalillo, Sara; Miller, Natalie Viola; Johnston, Charlotte


Knowledge of how parents think about their children’s misbehavior is important in understanding the behavioral and emotional problems of children. Relations between parent attributions for child misbehavior and child functioning were examined in a community sample of 163 two-parent families of 9-12 year-old boys and girls. Mother and father attributions were assessed along child-responsible and parent-causal dimensions. Both parent- and child-reported internalizing and externalizing problems were measured. Both mother and father child-responsible attributions predicted parent reports of both child internalizing and externalizing problems. For child self-reported functioning, mother parent-causal attributions negatively predicted child internalizing and externalizing problems, and father child-responsible attributions positively predicted child externalizing problems. The results highlight the importance of measuring different kinds of attributions by mothers and fathers, and of considering both parent and child views of child problems.

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