Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2018

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 07/03/2020

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Plumert, Jodie M.

First Committee Member

Plumert, Jodie M.

Second Committee Member

Kearney, Joseph K.

Third Committee Member

Kochanska, Grazyna

Fourth Committee Member

Nikolas, Molly A.

Fifth Committee Member

Cook, Susan Wagner


Unintentional injury is a leading cause of childhood death and disability in the U.S. Notably, atypically-developing children are at greater risk for unintentional injuries than their typically developing peers. A key question is how to prevent these injuries in both typically- and atypically-developing children. As children gain independence, responsibility for the regulation of risky behaviors must transfer from parents to children. This likely happens in a variety of ways, one of which is parent-child conversations about safety. Past work has examined the content of parent-child safety conversations in typically-developing children and found that mothers use disagreements, supported by references to dangerous features of the activity and the adverse outcomes that might result, as a means of bringing children around to their own way of thinking about safety. Still unknown is what these conversations look like while parents and children are engaged in common, yet potentially unsafe activities, such as crossing roads with traffic. Nor do we know what these conversations look like in at-risk populations, such as children with ADHD. Evidence points to poor executive function and oppositionality, commonly comorbid with ADHD, as driving the increased injury risk in this population.

We assessed parent-child safety conversations in real time while parents and their children (with and without ADHD) were engaged in a simulated risky activity: crossing traffic-filled roads in our pedestrian simulator. Recorded conversations were coded and parents completed several questionnaires and diagnostic assessments regarding their and their child’s ADHD symptoms. While fewer symptomology differences related to parent-child conversations emerged than initially anticipated, many that did were primarily driven by oppositionality. These findings support previous claims that oppositionality increases injury risk in this population and contributes to poorer parent-child interactions.


parent-child interaction, safety communication, unintentional injury


ix, 48 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 45-48).


Copyright © 2018 Elizabeth Elaine O'Neal

Available for download on Friday, July 03, 2020

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Psychology Commons