Predictors of Preschoolers' Appraisals of Conflict in Families Experiencing Intimate Partner Violence


Factors that may contribute to preschool-aged children's appraisals of their parent's violent conflicts in families experiencing recent intimate partner violence (IPV) were evaluated for 116 mother-child dyads. Mothers and children were interviewed using empirically-validated measures to assess level of violence, maternal and child mental health, and children's appraisals of conflict. Results suggest that preschool-aged children are able to meaningfully respond to statements about their parents' conflicts. Both mothers' and children's reports of violence were significantly associated with children's appraisals of Threat, but not with appraisals of Self-blame. Girls reported significantly higher levels of Self-blame than did boys. Children's cognitive appraisals of Threat and Self-blame did not vary by age or ethnicity. These findings suggest that interventions designed for young children might specifically target their cognitive appraisals to help them regulate their feelings of being threatened and to provide for their safety. © SAGE Publications 2012.

Publication Title

Journal of Interpersonal Violence