Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Christopher Trentacosta


Positive parenting has been associated with various adaptive childhood outcomes involving healthy cognitive, social, and emotional development (Fuligni & Brooks-Gunn, 2013; Roggman, Cook, Innocenti, Jump, & Christiansen, 2013). There is less research, however, on which factors contribute to the parents' use of positive parenting strategies. Some evidence suggests that factors such as the parents' emotional competencies, along with the child's temperament and the family environment, influence parenting behaviors (Belsky, 1984). This study explored predictors of positive parenting, including maternal emotion expressivity and emotion regulation, child temperament traits, maternal cognitive ability, maternal perception of social support, and single parenting. Participants were 104 African-American, at-risk young mothers and their children. Positive parenting was observed during a mother-child semi-structured play task, and coded using the Parenting Interactions with Children: Checklist of Observations Leading to Outcomes (PICCOLO; Roggman et. al). It was expected that the PICCOLO would demonstrate strong scale validity and reliability for this sample. It was hypothesized that mothers' emotion expressivity and regulation would predict their use of positive parenting behaviors. An exploratory hypothesis also predicted that mothers' emotion skills would moderate the relation between child temperament traits and the PICCOLO domains. Multiple regression and hierarchical linear regressions were used to conduct statistical analyses. Maternal emotion expressivity and regulation were not significant predictors of positive parenting, when controlling for child temperament, maternal cognitive ability, single parenting, and maternal perception of support. One exception was that the reported strength of the mothers' emotional expressions was negatively associated with the total PICCOLO score. Maternal emotion resources moderated some relationships with child temperament and the Encouragement domain of the PICCOLO. For mothers with low levels of positive expressivity, low levels of impulse strength, and high levels of suppression, having children with reportedly less "difficult" temperaments increased the likelihood of using Encouragement. These findings highlight the importance of examining parenting behaviors within the context of the parent-child relationship, rather than focusing on the characteristics of the individuals.