Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Educational Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Donna J. Habenicht

Second Advisor

Wilfred G. A. Futcher

Third Advisor

John B. Youngberg


Problem. Despite current awareness that temperament of children has been related to parental frustration and lack of child developmental knowledge has led to unrealistic expectations and parental stress, definitive information is needed regarding the relationship between (1) child temperament, (2) parental knowledge of child development, and (3) parental stress.

Method. One hundred and forty mothers with 3-year-old children were studied using the Thomas and Chess' Parent Questionnaire to measure parental perception of child temperament, the Knowledge of Child Development Inventory (Larsen & Juhasz) to assess maternal knowledge of child development, and Abidin's Parenting Stress Index to measure maternal stress. Demographic information was also collected.

Data were analyzed using a zero-order correlation, a stepwise-multiple-regression analysis, canonical-correlation analysis, and a univariate and multivariate-analysis ofvariance.

Results. Knowledge of child development modestly contributed to reducing parental stress in all areas (accounting for approximately 5% of the variance). Mothers with difficult children experienced the most parental stress of any group, while mothers of easy children experienced the least. Poor adaptability, high intensity in expression, unpredictibility, and high activity were the temperament traits that contributed the most to overall parental stress (p $<$.0005), accounting for approximately 44% of the variance. Children with these traits were more disrupting for the parent/child dyad and the parents were more frustrated in their parenting role (p = $<$.0005). The middle-income group was found to have a lower sense of competence, were more depressed, yet had better relationships with their spouses, good parent/child reinforcement, and children who adapted more easily (p $<$.04). Maternal age, work history, and socioeconomic level did not significantly affect parental stress.

Conclusions. Parents who know more about child development experience less stress as a parent. Certain child temperament traits make parenting more stressful. Maternal age, work history, or income level do not appear to influence parental stress.

Subject Area

Child development, Parent and child

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