Expressed emotion, parenting stress, and adjustment in mothers of young children with behavior problems.J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2000 Oct; 41(7):907-15.JC
Expressed Emotion (EE), a measure of the emotional climate of the family, predicts subsequent adjustment of adults with mental disorder (Leff & Vaughn, 1985). Despite the acknowledged importance of the family in childhood disorders, there have been relatively few studies of expressed emotion with adolescents and school-aged children and virtually none focused on preschoolers. The present study utilized the Five Minute Speech Sample (FMSS) to examine how Expressed Emotion relates concurrently and longitudinally to child problem status in a community sample of 112 preschool-aged children. At preschool, the proportion of high EE increased significantly across three child groups: Comparison (8.1%), Borderline Problem (15.8%), and High Problem (41.2%); however, preschool EE was not predictive of subsequent child status at 1st grade. Expanded FMSS codes. tapping positive affect and worry about the child, were also related to child problem group at preschool and were predictive of subsequent child status at 1st grade. Because parents' stress and adjustment were also highly related to child problem group status, we examined whether the FMSS codes were essentially a proxy for these or whether they explained unique variance. In two stepwise regressions on preschool child group status (divided by total problems and by externalizing problems), maternal stress was the only variable to enter. Also, in predicting to 1st grade externalizing child group status, only maternal stress entered. Discussion focused on the extension of the EE construct and other FMSS coding to young children, and the need to recognize that to some extent these variables may reflect maternal stress and adjustment.