Maternal Parenting Stress and Preschoolers’ Social-Emotional Competence and Behavioural Difficulties: A Variable- and Person-Centred Approach

Nicla Cucinella, Rossella Canale, Nicolò Maria Iannello, Cristiano Inguglia, Sonia Ingoglia


Background: The present study examined the relations between maternal parenting stress and preschoolers’ psychosocial adjustment, using both a variable-centred and a person-centred approach.
Methods: The study had three main purposes: (a) evaluating the associations of maternal parenting stress with children’s social-emotional competence and behavioural difficulties, as perceived by their mothers; (b) inquiring the existence of different children’s clusters on the basis of their level of social-emotional competence and behavioural difficulties; (c) exploring differences in maternal parenting stress linked to cluster membership. Participants were 91 Italian mothers, aged from 22 to 47 years old (M = 35.14; SD = 5.80), having a preschool child from 3 to 6 years old (M = 4.6; SD = 0.80).
Results: Overall, results showed that maternal parenting stress was negatively associated with children’s social-emotional competence, and positively associated with their behavioural difficulties. A cluster analysis consented to identify four children’s profiles characterized by different levels of social-emotional competence and behavioural difficulties: Maladjusted, Troubled, Adjusted and Controversial.
Conclusions: Results also evidenced differences among clusters in maternal parenting stress. Ultimately, this study suggests that interventions may consider reducing maternal parenting stress to promote children’s psychosocial adjustment.

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