Reciprocity Between Parental Psychopathology and Oppositional Symptoms From Preschool to Middle Childhood

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Abstract

© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Objective: Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a common disorder in preschool children. Evidence indicates that maternal and paternal psychopathology, particularly aggressive behavior and anxious and depressed symptoms, contributes to the development of this disorder. The latest research also suggests that ODD symptoms may exacerbate the mental health problems of parents. Our aim was to establish the existence of a reciprocal association between paternal and maternal psychopathology (aggression, depression, and anxiety) and child ODD at ages 3 and 8, using a longitudinal design in a community sample of preschoolers. Method: The sample included 331 children evaluated at ages 3 and 8 through questionnaires and a semistructured diagnostic interview with parents. Parents also informed about their own psychopathology. Results: At 3 years of age, higher levels of ODD symptoms in girls were concurrently associated with maternal anxious and depressed symptoms and paternal aggressive behavior, and higher levels of ODD symptoms in boys were concurrently associated with maternal aggressive behavior. Longitudinally, for boys, higher levels of maternal anxious and depressed symptoms at child age 3 predicted increases in ODD symptoms from 3 to 8 years of age. In addition, higher levels of ODD symptoms in boys aged 3–8 years predicted increases in fathers’ anxious and depressive symptoms. Conclusion: Children with ODD should be evaluated and treated promptly, but efforts should be extended to their parents. Mothers’ and fathers’ mental health must be explored because the psychopathologies of children and parents reciprocally affect each other.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-504
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
Volume74
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

Keywords

  • oppositional defiant disorder
  • parental psychopathology
  • preschool
  • reciprocal effects

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