Associations Between Child Physical Abuse Potential, Observed Maternal Parenting, and Young Children’s Emotion Regulation: Is Participation in Early Head Start Protective?




Katherine W. Paschall, Ann M. Mastergeorge, and Catherine C. Ayoub

Brief Type

Journal Publication


  • Early Head Start Home-Based Option


Clinicians working with Early Head Start (EHS) families consider family well-being and positive parent–child relationships as foundational to school readiness. Understanding the links between risk factors and these dimensions of family engagement can inform clinical decision-making, as risk assessments are used to tailoring program services. The current study examined the associations between high risk, or potential, for child physical abuse and both parenting quality and children's emotion regulation (ER) during toddlerhood; EHS participation was examined as a buffer. The sample included EHS-eligible mothers of infants (N = 80) drawn from one site of the EHS Research and Evaluation Project. Associations were tested between mothers’ potential for child physical abuse, measured during infancy, and observed maternal sensitivity, positive regard, harshness, and children's ER skills at child ages 1 and 2 years. Results indicated that high potential for child physical abuse was associated with lower positive regard at age 1 and lower ER skills at age 2. EHS participation operated as a buffer on each of these associations. Implications for screening for child physical abuse potential and the constructs it represents in clinical settings as well as how EHS can promote family engagement are discussed. (author abstract)

Data Collection Methods

  • Home Visit Observations
  • Standardized assessment tools



For More Information

Paschall, K. W., Mastergeorge, A. M., & Ayoub, C. C. (2019). Associations between child physical abuse potential, observed maternal parenting, and young children’s emotion regulation: Is participation in early head start protective? Infant Mental Health Journal, 40, 169–185.
doi: 10.1002/imhj.21767
Author Contact Information:
Katherine W. Paschall


  • Participant, Family, and Program Outcomes