Clarifying parent-child reciprocities during early childhood: The early childhood coercion model

Laura V. Scaramella, Leslie D. Leve

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

203 Scopus citations


Consistent with existing theory, the quality of parent-child interactions during early childhood affects children's social relationships and behavioral adjustment during middle childhood and adolescence. Harsh parenting and a propensity toward emotional overarousal interact very early in life to affect risk for later conduct problems. Less empirical work has evaluated the emergence of early childhood coercive parent-child reciprocities. The proposed early childhood coercion model describes the processes by which coercive parent-child reciprocities emerge. Specifically, the interaction between parenting and infants' propensities toward reactivity influences the development of emotion regulation in children and disciplinary styles in parents. Highly reactive children are expected to experience more difficulty learning to regulate emotions and to evoke harsher parenting. Through a process of mutual reinforcement, harsh parenting, negative emotional reactivity, and poor emotion regulation become coercive parent-child reciprocities during early childhood. The emergence of coercive parent-child interactions further diminishes children's emotional regulatory capacities and affects the formation of peer relationships during kindergarten.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-107
Number of pages19
JournalClinical Child and Family Psychology Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • early childhood
  • parent-child relations
  • temperament
  • theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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