Preschoolers' sleep behaviour

Associations with parental hardiness, sleep-related cognitions and bedtime interactions

Nikki Johnson, Catherine McMahon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

53 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Childhood sleep problems which are prevalent in Western societies are associated with a wide range of emotional, cognitive and behavioural disturbances. Growing evidence suggests that parents play a pivotal role in children's sleep behaviour and that a parenting style which promotes self-regulation is beneficial. This study tested a unique model that included parental hardiness, sleep-related cognitions, bedtime interactions and child sleep behaviour. Methods: Parents (N = 110) with a child attending preschool (mean age = 3.81 years, SD =.84) responded to a survey assessing their level of hardiness, sleep-related cognitions, bedtime interactions and their child's sleep behaviour and temperament. Secondary caregivers completed a survey assessing child sleep and temperament, and teachers/childcare workers also reported on child temperament. Results: In line with previous research, 37% of children in this community sample met criteria for a sleep problem. Regression analyses and structural equation modelling confirmed that low parental hardiness, problematic sleep-related cognitions and a greater number of parental interactions at bedtime significantly predicted child sleep problems, after considering child temperament. Conclusions: This study's theoretically driven model not only offers an explanation for what contributes to and maintains sleep problems in childhood but also suggests new areas for research. Importantly, the model can also be readily translated into clinical interventions to develop and enhance effective authoritative parenting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765-773
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008

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