Household chaos and children's cognitive and socio-emotional development in early childhood: Does childcare play a buffering role?

The Family Life Project Key Investigators, The Family Life Project Key Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Evidence suggests that household chaos is associated with less optimal child outcomes. Yet, there is an increasing indication that children's experiences in childcare may buffer them against the detrimental effects of such environments. Our study aims were to test: (1) whether children's experiences in childcare mitigated relations between household chaos and children's cognitive and social development, and (2) whether these (conditional) chaos effects were mediated by links between chaos and executive functioning. Using data from The Family Life Project (n = 1235)-a population-based sample of families from low-income, rural contexts-our findings indicated that household disorganization in early childhood was predictive of worse cognitive and social outcomes at approximately age five. However, these relations were substantially attenuated for children attending greater childcare hours. Subsequent models indicated that the conditional associations between household disorganization and less optimal outcomes at age five were mediated by conditional links between disorganization and less optimal executive functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-127
Number of pages13
JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (1PO1HD39667 and 2PO1HD039667). Co-funding was provided by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, NIH Office of Minority Health, NIH-Office of the Director, National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all of the families, children, and teachers who participated in this research and to the Family Life Project research assistants for their hard work and dedication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc.


  • Childcare
  • Cognitive development
  • Executive function
  • Household chaos
  • Social development


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