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Journal Article


Houtepen JABM, Sijtsema JJ, Klimstra TA, van der Lem R, Bogaerts S. Child Youth Care Forum 2019; 48(1): 127-145.


(Copyright © 2019, Holtzbrinck Springer Nature Publishing Group)






BackgroundAdolescents face major developmental tasks such as increasing individuation and establishing autonomy. These developmental tasks increase demands on adolescent self-control, hereby putting youth with poor effortful control at risk for psychopathology. Specific parenting behaviors might be warranted to buffer against this risk.

OBJECTIVEThis study was designed to examine parenting-related risk and protective factors in the associations between effortful control and adolescent psychopathology. We hypothesized that youth with poor effortful control require more parental involvement (i.e., lower autonomy granting) to help complete these developmental tasks and subsequently avoid psychopathology.

METHODSVia adolescent self-reports (N = 809), associations between effortful control, perceived parenting (i.e., psychological control and autonomy support), and externalizing (i.e., interpersonal aggression and rule-breaking) and internalizing problems (i.e., depressive and anxiety problems) were examined.

RESULTSRegression analyses supported our hypothesis in boys: higher levels of autonomy support exacerbated the negative association between effortful control and rule-breaking. In contrast, in girls this was the case for lower levels of autonomy support. For both genders, low autonomy support and psychological control exacerbated negative associations between effortful control and internalizing problems. No buffering effects of parenting were found.

CONCLUSIONSLow effortful control is associated with psychopathology in adolescents, but parenting can affect this association in several ways, depending on the type of psychopathology and the adolescent's gender. Future research should focus on finding 'optimal' levels of parental control that can help avoid psychopathological problems in youth with poor effortful control.

Language: en


Adolescent psychopathology; Autonomy support; Effortful control; Externalizing and internalizing problems; Parenting; Psychological control


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