Date of Award

Summer 8-19-2013

Author's School

College of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



Parental responses to child behavior can have an important impact on later behavioral outcomes. Children with Disruptive Behavior Disorders often engage in externalizing and disruptive behaviors, which usually elicit negative responses from parents. Boys are more frequently diagnosed with these disorders, resulting in a dearth of literature on parental responses to girls with Disruptive Behavior Disorders. Studies have found that parents react more negatively when girls engage in disruptive behavior, plausibly because it is contrary to societal gender expectations. The current study investigates this dynamic within the population of preschoolers with Disruptive Behavior Disorders. I predicted that parents would show more negative behaviors toward girls than they would toward boys. Fifty-nine parent-child dyads were included in the study, and all children were diagnosed during their interview with a Disruptive Behavior Disorder. Each dyad completed an interaction task, which was coded for non-supportive parenting strategies and negative affect. The majority of parental response variables were not found to be significantly different between child gender groups, possibly because this population of parents may be better acclimated to disruptive behavior in their children. The exception to these findings, Ambiguous Directions, was a non-supportive parenting strategy found to be significantly more common in parent-boy dyads. This result was consistent with the current literature, which suggests that parents are less explicit and directive in their communication with young boys. In summary, literature on this topic remains inconclusive, and further research should be done on the intersection between parenting, child gender, and Disruptive Behavior Disorders.


English (en)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Joan Luby

Advisor/Committee Chair's Department


Second Advisor

Dr. Mitchell Sommers

Second Advisor's Department