An experimental test of parenting practices as a mediator of early childhood physical aggression

Laurie Miller Brotman, Colleen R. O'Neal, Keng Yen Huang, Kathleen Kiely Gouley, Amanda Rosenfelt, Patrick E. Shrout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Parenting practices predict early childhood physical aggression. Preventive interventions that alter parenting practices and aggression during early childhood provide the opportunity to test causal models of early childhood psychopathology. Although there have been several informative preventive intervention studies that test mediation models in older children, no such studies have been conducted with younger children at high risk for psychopathology. Method: Within the context of a randomized controlled trial, we examined whether changes in parenting practices mediate the effects of a family intervention on observed physical aggression among African American and Latino younger siblings of adjudicated youths. Results: Improved parenting practices partially mediated the intervention effect on physical aggression. Improvements in harsh parenting, responsive parenting, and stimulating parenting explained a significant amount of the intervention effect on child physical aggression observed in the context of parent-child interactions. Parenting practices accounted for 38% of the intervention effect on physical aggression. Conclusions: There was support for the hypothesized model of the prevention of physical aggression during early childhood. Intervention benefits on parenting practices partially accounted for intervention effects on physical aggression in young high-risk children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-245
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009


  • Early childhood
  • Mediation
  • Parenting practices
  • Physical aggression
  • Prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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