In the current article, we contrast 2 analytical approaches to estimate the relation of parenting to executive function development in a sample of 1,292 children assessed longitudinally between the ages of 36 and 60 months of age. Children were administered a newly developed and validated battery of 6 executive function tasks tapping inhibitory control, working memory, and attention shifting. Residualized change analysis indicated that higher quality parenting as indicated by higher scores on widely used measures of parenting at both earlier and later time points predicted more positive gain in executive function at 60 months. Latent change score models in which parenting and executive function over time were held to standards of longitudinal measurement invariance provided additional evidence of the association between change in parenting quality and change in executive function. In these models, cross-lagged paths indicated that in addition to parenting predicting change in executive function, executive function bidirectionally predicted change in parenting quality. Results were robust with the addition of covariates, including child sex, race, maternal education, and household income-to-need. Strengths and drawbacks of the 2 analytic approaches are discussed, and the findings are considered in light of emerging methodological innovations for testing the extent to which executive function is malleable and open to the influence of experience.
- Executive function