Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

William Chaplin

Second Advisor

Alice Pope


Children with externalizing disorders are typically found to be more challenging to interact with and are met with less patience, empathy, and distress tolerance in managing their symptoms compared to children with internalizing disorders. Not only are the symptoms of these disorders challenging for children but also for parents, which can cause a considerable amount of stress. These symptoms are typically addressed by different interventions that primarily require parent involvement to manage disruptive behaviors and non-compliance. There is also common comorbidity that often overlaps between externalizing and internalizing symptoms, which can make differential diagnosis and treatment planning more difficult than expected. The relationship between externalizing and internalizing symptoms is one that is challenging to parse out; however, external factors such as parent stress makes it even more difficult to understand whether these symptoms are caused or exacerbated by parent stress. Little research is existing that explores the impact of age on child symptoms and parent stress, and how it impacts the parent and child relationship. The objective of this study was to explore the effects of externalizing symptoms in their relationship to parent stress a function of child age. The participants of this study include a diverse sample of 26 participants with parent reports of both child externalizing symptoms and parent stress. Findings were contrasted with internalizing disorders. Results also highlight the importance of understanding symptom presentation across development in relation to parent stress and how that impacts treatment or barriers to treatment.

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Psychology Commons