Informant-specific reports of peer and teacher relationships buffer the effects of harsh parenting on children's oppositional defiant disorder during kindergarten

Dev Psychopathol. 2020 Feb;32(1):163-174. doi: 10.1017/S0954579418001499.


Harsh and restrictive parenting are well-established contributors to the development of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) among children. However, few studies have explored whether interpersonal relationships that develop outside the family environment attenuate the risk for ODD that is associated with harsh parenting. The current study tested multireporter measures of teacher-child closeness and peer acceptance as moderators of the association between harsh parenting and children's ODD as children's social worlds widen during the kindergarten year (N = 338 children, 48% girls, M age = 5.32 years). Harsh parenting interacted with peer nominations of peer acceptance and children's report of teacher-child closeness to predict children's ODD symptoms in the spring, adjusting for fall symptoms. Children exposed to harsh parenting exhibited greater symptom increases when they were less liked/accepted playmates and in the context of lower teacher-child closeness. However, harsh parenting was not associated with symptom change among children with higher levels of peer-nominated acceptance and those who reported closer relationships with teachers. There were no significant interactions using teacher's report of peer acceptance or teacher's report of teacher-child closeness. Findings highlight positive peer and teacher relationships as promising targets of intervention among children exposed to harsh parenting and support the importance of assessing multiple perspectives of children's social functioning.

Keywords: externalizing behavior; parenting; peer relationship; teacher–child relationship.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Peer Group*
  • School Teachers / psychology*
  • Schools