Linking child externalising problems to psychological distress in parents: Mobile phone use by children as a mediator

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Abstract

Child externalising problems, such as acting out and hostility, have been found to be significant stressors for parents, leading to increased distress levels. This cross-sectional study examined the mediating role of parents' use of mobile phones to soothe or engage children in the association between child externalising problems and distress in parents. Altogether 937 parents of children aged 5–12 reported their child's externalising problems, child's mobile phone use, and their distress through an online survey. The findings indicated that parents of children with high externalising problems are more likely to use mobile phones to soothe their children and keep them engaged in daily activities, which, in turn, is associated with higher distress in parents. Child externalising problems and distress in parents remained significantly and positively associated even after accounting for the mediating effect. The results highlight the child-driven effect on distress in parents through parenting behaviours, indicating the importance of providing alternative parenting strategies to cope with child externalising behaviours, in order to promote parental emotional well-being. Copyright © 2024 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
JournalStress and Health
Early online dateMay 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - May 2024

Citation

Wu, X.-Y., Lau, E. Y. H., Li, J.-B., & Chan, D. K. C. (2024). Linking child externalising problems to psychological distress in parents: Mobile phone use by children as a mediator. Stress and Health. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1002/smi.3421

Keywords

  • Child‐driven effect
  • Distress in parents
  • Externalising problems
  • Mobile phone use by children
  • PG student publication

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