Future Directions

Our results suggest that there are important implications for future research and for prevention and intervention during the preschool years. First, the expansion to other preschool samples that experience different levels of psychosocial risk are an important topic of future research. The Boston project targeted mothers and their young children who reside in preidentified residential zip codes; studies using a different preschool population, for example, those residing in areas of higher risk for community violence (e.g., housing projects) are likely to yield different results. The task faced by mothers living in poor, high crime communities is likely to be different than that those faced by families living in neighborhoods with less violence and greater resources (Gorman-Smith & Tolan, 1998). Second, future studies should include longitudinal samples to determine with some certainty the direction of effect between violence exposure, maternal functioning, and child symptom level. It is possible, for example, that aggressive children seek out violent contexts, or that anxious children diminish maternal functioning. Under a bi-directional perspective, mother and child affect each other, so that the child's problems may impact on maternal well-being, particularly maternal distress level. Longitudinal research is needed to disentangle with some degree of certainty these competing hypotheses. Third, research should be expanded to involve a comprehensive multi-agent methodology to address the shared method variance limitation of this study as mothers are the source of data for the independent and most of the dependent variables. The use of maternal self-reports and standardized parenting ratings from videotaped mother-child interaction are important steps in the right direction. Independent behavioral observations of parenting during an ecologically meaningful task (toy cleaning compliance) are virtually non existent in research addressing the impact of parenting on preschoolers residing in high-crime neighborhoods. In future studies, direct observations of other key constructs (i.e., child behavior problems) are desirable to minimize parental bias in reporting child symptomatology (Treutler & Epkins, 2003).

The development of prevention and intervention for preschoolers exposed to community violence is a crucial area of future research. Our findings point to future intervention efforts likely to be effective for this population. To the extent that psychosocial factors may be largely malleable and subject to change, they are good targets for effective prevention interventions for this and other similar vulnerable dyads. Several macro-level approaches, such as community involvement, political action, and community policing, are geared at improving directly the quality of life in high crime neighborhoods. A safer neighborhood may ameliorate maternal distress related to perceptions of local danger and disorder experienced by mothers residing in high crime neighborhoods; and as such will eventually improve child mental health via improving maternal health. At a more micro-level, in an era of limited public resources, providing broad health services and support to increase maternal functioning (including health services, psychological treatment, and support in parenting tasks) may have a substantial benefit for both mother and child. Results suggest that helping mothers who are experiencing chronic local crime in their communities may not only ensure that their own mental health needs are met, but may indirectly, diminish the negative effects of chronic community violence on their children's behavioral adjustment. In light of the results of the Parenting Study, it may be important to add training in positive parenting skills as a focus of intervention efforts. Consistent with the salient role of mothers during the preschool years, it is likely that gains in positive parenting result in fewer child internalizing and externalizing behavior problems. The stronger link between maternal and child internalizing behavior, as compared to maternal distress and externalizing behavior problems is important for the prevention science field. For example, programs wishing to decrease problematic child internalizing behavior may target maternal distress, while programs wishing to decrease child externalizing behavior problems may need to focus at mitigating family violence. A multi-component intervention program addressing maternal distress and family violence, however, is likely to have a far reaching impact in decreasing overall child problems during the preschool years. Early childhood interventionists understand the value of addressing maternal and child health simultaneously among multi-risk young children for whom exposure to community violence remains a public health risk of considerable proportions.

Joy Of Modern Parenting Collection

Joy Of Modern Parenting Collection

This is a collection of parenting guides. Within this collection you will find the following titles: Issues, rule and discipline, self esteem and tips plus more.

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