This study examined a neurobiologically informed model of the emergence of child externalizing behaviors in an ethnically diverse community sample of 232 9-12 year old children. Replicating extensive prior research, our analyses revealed that parents' inconsistent discipline and poor quality monitoring were predictive of child externalizing behavior. In addition, poor parental monitoring, but not inconsistent discipline, was associated with children having a significantly flatter morning-to-evening cortisol slope, which was in turn, related to higher levels of externalizing behaviors. An indirect effect of parental monitoring on externalizing behaviors, through child diurnal cortisol rhythms, was also supported. These findings highlight the role of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and its hormonal end product, cortisol, in the relationship between the caregiving environment and the development of externalizing behaviors.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding for this research was provided by the following grants: HD045894, NICHD, NIH, U.S. PHS; MH059780, MH020012, and MH078105, NIMH, NIH, U.S. PHS; and DA023920, NIDA, NIH, U.S. PHS. The authors thank the families who participated in the study; John Landsverk, Cynthia Connelly, and their colleagues at the Child and Adolescent Services Research Center in San Diego.
Funding for this study was provided by the following grants: HD045894 , NICHD, U.S. PHS ; MH059780 and MH078105 , NIMH, U.S. PHS ; and DA023920 , NIDA, U.S. PHS . The funding organizations had no further role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of the data; in the writing of this paper; or in the decision to submit the paper for publication.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Biological Psychiatry