The Influence of Neighborhood Risk, Parental Control, and Fearful Temperament on the Development of Internalizing Problems in Young Children

Restricted (Penn State Only)
Mcdoniel, Meghan E
Graduate Program:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
November 14, 2016
Committee Members:
  • Kristin Buss, Thesis Advisor
  • Dawn Paula Witherspoon, Committee Member
  • Ginger A Moore, Committee Member
  • Fearful temperament
  • parental control
  • neighborhood risk
  • internalizing
Fearful temperament is a risk factor for the development of anxiety and internalizing problems in young children (Buss, 2011; Kagan & Fox, 2006), but not all fearful children go on to develop these symptoms. Parental control is one factor that has been shown to increase children’s risk for internalizing symptoms (Kiel, Premo, & Buss, 2015; Lewis-Morrarty et al., 2012). However, little work has been done to examine the relations between fearful temperament, parental control, and internalizing symptoms while also considering the impact of the larger context (i.e., neighborhoods). Neighborhood disadvantage has been shown to influence parenting behaviors (Cuellar, Sterratt, & Jones, 2015; Hill & Tyson, 2008) and to increase risks for internalizing symptoms in children (Bush et al., 2010; Hill et al., 1996; Xue et al., 2005). The current study examined two models to better understand the development of internalizing symptoms for young children through fearful temperament, parental control, and neighborhood risks. The data were drawn from Durham Child Health and Development Study (DCHDS), a diverse sample of children and their families. The results indicate that neighborhood risk was associated with greater internalizing symptoms for children who were low in fearfulness. The implications and potential applications of these findings for early internalizing prevention are discussed.