A longitudinal study of mothers' overreactive discipline and toddlers' externalizing behavior

Susan G. O'Leary, Amy M. Smith Slep, M. Jamila Reid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The association between children's externalizing behavior problems and mothers' overreactive discipline was examined in a longitudinally assessed sample of toddlers and their mothers. Path analyses indicated that mothers' overreactive discipline and children's externalizing behaviors were significantly and similarly stable over a 2 1/2 -year period. No evidence of a cross-time influence of either variable on the other was observed. Mothers' overreactive discipline at Time 2 had a significant effect on Time 2 externalizing behavior. No significant effects of children's behavior on mothers' discipline were found. Mothers' depressive symptomatology and marital discord predicted initial overreactivity and were related to externalizing problems through their relations to overreactivity. The results support the appropriateness of implementing parenting interventions for externalizing problems before age 2 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-341
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1999


  • Discipline
  • Externalizing behavior
  • Longitudinal
  • Parenting
  • Risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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