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Developmental profiles of child behavior problems from 18 months to 8 years: The protective effects of structured parenting vary by genetic risk.

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Anderson, Daniel 
Harold, Gordon T 
Neiderhiser, Jenae M  ORCID logo


Some children are more affected by specific family environments than others, as a function of differences in their genetic make-up. However, longitudinal studies of genetic moderation of parenting effects during early childhood have not been conducted. We examined developmental profiles of child behavior problems between 18 months and age 8 in a longitudinal parent-offspring sample of 361 adopted children. In toddlerhood (18 months), observed structured parenting indexed parental guidance in service of task goals. Biological parent psychopathology served as an index of genetic influences on children's behavior problems. Four profiles of child behavior problems were identified: low stable (11%), average stable (50%), higher stable (29%), and high increasing (11%). A multinominal logistic regression analysis indicated a genetically moderated effect of structured parenting, such that for children whose biological mother had higher psychopathology, the odds of the child being in the low stable group increased as structured parenting increased. Conversely, for children whose biological mother had lower psychopathology, the odds of being in the low stable group was reduced when structured parenting increased. Results suggest that increasing structured parenting is an effective strategy for children at higher genetic risk for psychopathology, but may be detrimental for those at lower genetic risk.



adoption, behavior problems, childhood, genetic, parenting

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Dev Psychopathol

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Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Economic and Social Research Council (ES/L014718/1)