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Parent Regulation, Engagement, Stress, and Health (PRESH)

Headshot of Erika LunkenheimerPI: Erika Lunkenheimer

NICHD R01HD097189
Administered in: College of the Liberal Arts

Abstract

Parents need to discipline their preschoolers daily as they teach them how to act appropriately.  Sometimes this process is challenging and stressful for parents.  When managing children is particularly stressful, discipline may be less effective or may become harsh or harmful to children. Stressed parents may also have less time and energy to engage in their children’s lives in other positive ways, such as teaching them new skills or being involved in supportive programs.  Our interest is in understanding how parents regulate themselves while disciplining their children so that we may learn how to better support them.  We hope to use these findings to tailor interventions to reduce parental stress, and therefore open the door for parents to be more involved in their children’s lives in positive ways.

The PRESH project involves studying parents’ own experiences of being parented in childhood, their mental health, their beliefs about parenting, parenting stress, and their self-regulation.  We are especially interested in how these factors influence parent-child interaction patterns and parents’ disciplinary practices.  Understanding which factors are most influential in parenting situations will help us determine which factors should be prioritized when attempting to reduce parenting stress through intervention.  We are also interested in how parenting stress contributes to parental engagement in supportive programming for families.  The reduction of stress may allow parents to make better use of the supports that are already available to them. 

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