Reducing the Impact of Early Childhood Stressors on Problem Behaviors

Project Abstract

This study seeks to illuminate the problems that can be faced by those who have experienced stress in childhood but who did not necessarily develop clinically diagnosable problems. This research comes in light of research as a whole’s move away from static to contextual models of understanding personality development, making it imperative to consider daily occurrences, not just biology or significant traumatic events, in personality formation. Temperament has long been considered the innate source of behaviors that later solidify into personality, but behaviors themselves and the conditions that produce and reinforce them are shaped by the daily environment. This behavior-environment interaction is especially important for children experiencing chronic and multiple childhood stressors like low income, food insecurity, and parental aggravation. Non-clinical personality related problem behaviors like high internalizing/externalizing behaviors may arise from these stressors over time, which in turn lead to negative life consequences including relationship problems, lower job performance, and diagnosed disorders. This study therefore seeks to explore the impact of chronicity and multiple childhood stressors on high internalizing and externalizing behaviors in adolescence and the mitigating role of parental involvement during childhood. It is hypothesized that chronic and multiple stressors at ages 3 and 5 will predict higher internalizing/externalizing behaviors at age 15. Secondly, parental involvement at age 3 and 5 will predict lower internalizing/externalizing behaviors at age 15. But of course, not all children born into stressful environments will exhibit negative clinical problem behaviors. Resilience research on the impact of early childhood stressors on non-clinical behaviors is important to help reduce negative personality behaviors that impede daily adult functioning.

Keywords: Personality, Childhood, Stress, Behavior, Temperament, Environment, Parental Aggravation, Parental Involvement


Conference name (full, no abbreviations): Resilience Conference 2019

Dates: April 14-16, 2019

Sponsoring body: Life Paths Research Center

Conference website:

Funding Type

Travel Grant

Academic College

College of Humanities and Fine Arts








Dr. Esther Malm

Academic College

College of Humanities and Fine Arts

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