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Title:Family interaction in early adolescence: assessing contributions to early adolescents’ socio-emotional adjustment
Author(s):Emery, Helen T
Director of Research:McElwain, Nancy
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):McElwain, Nancy
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Bost, Kelly; Kramer, Laurie; Tu-Frantz, Kelly; Berry, Daniel
Department / Program:Human & Community Development
Discipline:Human & Community Development
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Family interaction
Early adolescence
Abstract:Family relationships are an important influence on early adolescents’ socio-emotional adjustment, although we know less about how family-level relationship quality influences development specifically. To help address this gap in the literature, I used data from a subsample of two-parent families from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development who had completed a family interaction task in 5th grade (N = 605) to assess the associations between family-level interaction quality at 5th grade and early adolescent socio-emotional adjustment in 6th grade, controlling for 5th grade adjustment. Socio-emotional adjustment was assessed using three measures: internalizing problems, externalizing problems and social competence. Structural equation modeling was used in analyses, as family interaction quality was examined as latent variables of positive and negative interaction quality. Moderation analyses were also conducted to examine whether the following contextual or individual variables moderated the family-adjustment associations: (a) switching schools between 5th and 6th grade, (b) child emotional reactivity, and (c) child gender. Finally, models with significant family interaction to adjustment associations were re-computed including maternal and paternal sensitivity to test the distinctiveness of the family-level interaction associations from other important family relationships (e.g., parent-child relationship). Only limited evidence that negative family interaction quality was associated with 6th grade adjustment emerged in analyses. Positive family interaction, however, made significant contributions to 6th grade adjustment when examining school switch and child gender as moderators. Social competence in particular was influenced by positive family interaction: greater positive family interaction quality in 5th grade predicted greater social competence for students who switched schools, as well as for boys specifically. Some, but not all, associations remained significant when accounting for parental sensitivity, offering modest support that these are distinct contributions from those that dyadic parent-child relationship quality makes to early adolescent socio-emotional adjustment. Results highlight the importance of examining both positive and negative dimensions of family interaction in the same study, as well the benefit of studying potential moderators of family-adjustment associations.
Issue Date:2017-07-13
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Helen Emery
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-09-29
Date Deposited:2017-08

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