By Kacy Mixon, PhD, LMFT
Family dynamics, and most notably parent-child interactions, play a large role in children’s educational, social and emotional well-being . Children learn how to manage their emotions through observation, modeling, and social referencing  experienced not only in school and community contexts but also in their home life.
Researchers have reported significant associations between the family dynamics, children’s school readiness and children’s approaches to learning which is conceptualized as characteristics and behaviors children display while engaging in learning [3, 4]. Researchers have also reported positive associations among parental nurturance, discipline, teaching and children’s language and school readiness factors . Studies looking at family factors such as parental emotional distress, parenting styles, and home activities have also shown that these can moderate child well-being .
For children who have been exposed to traumatic events in the home such as domestic violence, the negative impacts to mental health, social and academic functioning is often severe. A recent study found that parent’s level of stress can mediate the effects of child trauma on mental health .
What does this mean for professionals?
These research findings demonstrate a need to tailor child and family interventions to include developing healthy bonds and interactions. It may be useful to help families implement strategies that not only build healthy parent-child interactions but also assist in finding ways to decrease parenting stress
4. Hair, E., Halle, T., Terry-Humen, E., Lavelle, B., & Calkins, J. (2006). Children’s school readiness in the ECLS-K: Predictions to academic, health, and social outcomes in first grade. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 21, 431-454.
6. Roberts, Y.H., Campbell, C.A., Ferguson, M., & Crusto, C.A. (2013). The role of parenting stress in young children’s mental health functioning after exposure to family violence. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 26(5), 605-612.
This post was written by Kacy Mixon, PhD, LMFT, Social Media Specialist. She works with other members of the Family Development team to support the development of military professionals working with families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network here and on Facebook.