The Influence of Children’s Effortful Control on Parent–Child Behavioral Synchrony

Kayla M. Brown, Nilam Ram, Erika Lunkenheimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Child temperament appears to evoke specific parenting behaviors that contribute to child development. However, questions remain about whether individual differences in children’s temperamental self-regulation, namely, effortful control (EC), shape moment-to-moment parent–child interaction dynamics. Accordingly, we examined whether differences in children’s EC were related to dynamic synchrony of parent and child behaviors during a challenging problem-solving task.We also tested whether these relations varied by parents’ expressions of positive and negative behaviors that might differentially support or undermine children’s regulatory efforts. State-trait multilevel models demonstrated that parent–child dyads engaged in dynamic, real-time behavioral concordance while parents engaged in positive but not negative behaviors. Further, dynamic concordance during parents’ expressions of both positive and negative behaviors was moderated such that dyads with children higher in EC showed greater concordance. Additionally, when child behavior was more negative on average, parent behavior was also more negative on average. Results suggest parents’ positive (compared to negative) behaviors are more likely to facilitate real-time synchrony and that children with higher EC may experience or foster greater behavioral synchrony with parents. Discussion centers on the importance of children’s individual differences in shaping parent–child synchrony and potential implications for children’s developing self-regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)907-918
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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