Parents of children affected by developmental delays (DD) have been shown to experience elevated levels of parenting stress compared to parents of typically developing children. Recent studies suggest that higher levels of parenting stress can adversely impact child behavior and development, such that higher levels of parenting stress are often associated with higher levels of behavior problems and negative developmental outcomes. However the specific mechanisms through which parenting stress influences child outcomes remain unclear. The overall parenting process may be one potential medium through which parenting stress influences both child behavioral and developmental outcomes. The current study involved both qualitative and quantitative data from the Mindful Awareness for Parenting Stress (MAPS) Project, a randomized controlled trial examining the efficacy of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in reducing parental stress and subsequent child behavior problems. Participants included 96 parents of children, ages 2.5 to 5 years old, with DD. Results of the directed content analysis for qualitative data indicated that parents experienced significant improvements across levels of parenting stress, parenting behavior, and child behavior and development. Subsequent results of multiple mediation analyses indicted that one component of the parent-child relationship, parent-child relational frustration, significantly mediated the relationship between parenting stress and child outcomes, such that higher parental distress led to increased relational frustration, which in turn led to higher child behavior problems. Components of parental role expectation and satisfaction and parenting behavior were not found to be significant mediators to the relationship between parenting stress and child behavior and development. Recognizing that parent-child relaitonal factors such as these impact the relationship between heightened parenting stress and adverse behavioral outcomes among children with DD will allow interventions to be developed that not only target reducing parenting stress, but specifically target improving the parent-child relationship with the ultimate of goal of decreasing behavior problems and increasing developmental gains among children with DD.

LLU Discipline

Clinical Psychology




School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Neece, Cameron L.

Second Advisor

Roberts, Lisa R.

Third Advisor

Vermeersch, David A.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Parenting - Psychology; Stress; Psychological; Child Development Disorders - Psychology; Child Behavior Disorders - Psychology

Subject - Local

Mindful Awareness for Parenting Stress Project; MAPS; Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction; Parental Stress; Parent - Child Relationship; Child development outcomes



Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives