Major Department



College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


BA (Bachelor of Arts)

Session and Year of Graduation

Fall 2020

Honors Major Advisor

Petersen, Isaac

Thesis Mentor

Petersen, Isaac


Previous studies have examined parental control as linearly positive associated with externalizing and internalizing problems at a young age. Harris-McKoy found a curvilinear association between parental control and externalizing problems for adolescents, suggesting that there may be an “optimal range” of parental control. However, it is still unclear how internalizing problems are associated with parental control as well as a need for a more fine-grained correlation between the externalizing/internalizing problems and the different aspects of parental control. In addition, it is not known whether the curvilinear association reported in adolescents can be generalized to younger children. Thus, the current study examined the existence of a curvilinear association in 3-7-year-old children. We hypothesized that parental control would show a U-shaped association with externalizing problems and a positive linear association with internalizing problems as previous studies have found, whereby higher parental control is associated with more internalizing problems. Participants were a community sample of 68 children aged 3-7 years and their parents. Parents reported their child's externalizing and internalizing problems, their parental control, including lax and physical control, and restrictiveness. We found that either very high or very low parental physical control, but not general parental control, was associated with more externalizing problems. There was no significant association between parental control and internalizing problems in the two-tailed test. Results suggest that moderate parental physical control is related to lower externalizing problems. Overall, the study advances our understanding of the complex role that parental controls play in children’s adjustments.


Parental control, externalizing problems, internalizing problems, early childhood development

Total Pages

42 pages


Copyright © 2020 Zeya Han