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The current study tested the associations of both positive (i.e., warm and responsive) and negative (i.e., harsh and inconsistent) aspects of parenting with callous-unemotional (CU) traits and conduct problems. Caregivers and teachers of 92 ethnically diverse (33% African American) kindergarten students (61% female) were recruited to complete a series of survey measures. Students’ average age was 6.2 (SD = 0.42) years. Parent report of positive parenting practices, but not negative parenting practices, was associated with teacher report of conduct problems. Further, positive parenting interacted with CU traits in their association with conduct problems. Parental use of positive reinforcement was more strongly negatively related to conduct problems for youth with high levels of CU traits, whereas parent–child cooperation was positively related to conduct problems only for youth with low levels of CU traits. Finally, only parental warmth was negatively correlated with CU traits after controlling for level of conduct problems. Results were generally not moderated by the child’s gender or ethnicity. These findings highlight the importance of positive parenting practices for understanding CU traits and as potential targets in clinical interventions to treat children who show elevated levels of these traits.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Journal Article

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