Autonomy-supportive parenting and associations with child and parent executive function

Rebecca Distefano, Ellen Galinsky, Megan M. McClelland, Philip David Zelazo, Stephanie M. Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Autonomy-supportive parenting appears to play an important role in children's executive function (EF) development. However, few studies have accounted for parents’ EF skills when examining the link between parenting and child EF in families from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. In the current study, parents and their 3- to 5-year-old children (N = 85 dyads) were assessed in the fall of preschool on well-validated behavioral assessments of EF and participated in a dyadic problem-solving task. We found that parent EF and child EF were correlated, both were associated with autonomy-supportive parenting, and these links were not moderated by socioeconomic status. Autonomy support was a predictor of child EF skills above and beyond parent EF, and bootstrapping mediational analyses confirmed that autonomy-supportive behaviors mediated the link between parent-child EF. These results provide initial evidence for the intergenerational transmission of EF through autonomy support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-85
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • Autonomy-supportive parenting
  • Executive function
  • Socioeconomic status


Dive into the research topics of 'Autonomy-supportive parenting and associations with child and parent executive function'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this