Maternal Power Assertive Discipline and Children’s Adjustment in High-Risk Families: A Social Domain Theory Approach

Melissa L. Sturge-Apple, Debrielle T. Jacques, Patrick T. Davies, Dante Cicchetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The goal of the present study was to examine associations between maternal use of power assertive parenting across different discipline contexts and children’s adjustment in a sample of low-income, racially diverse families. Drawing from social domain perspectives on parenting, we specifically examined discipline in response to child transgressions in conventional, moral, and prudential contexts. In turn, we tested how power assertive discipline within these domains may be differentially linked to children’s externalizing and internalizing symptomatology over time. Participants included 201 toddlers and their mothers who were assessed across two waves spaced two years apart. Results indicated that mothers were more likely to endorse power assertive parenting within prudential contexts compared to others. Longitudinal analyses revealed that power assertive discipline in the conventional domain was primarily associated with internalizing symptoms while the moral domain was associated with externalizing symptoms over time. Moreover, domains of caregiving were differentially associated with substantive constructs as opposed to sociodemographic constructs. The results are interpreted within social domain conceptualizations of socialization that underscore how distinct domains may differentially impact children’s socio-emotional adjustment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2319-2330
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (R01 MH071256) awarded to Patrick T. Davies and Dante Cicchetti. The authors have no relevant financial or nonfinancial interests to disclose.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Discipline
  • Externalizing problems
  • High risk families
  • Internalizing problems
  • Parenting


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