The use of AAP-recommended disciplinary practice guidelines among African American caregivers of children in head start programs

Ivor B. Horn, Amy Lewin, Jocelyn Turner-Musa, Mark C. Edwards, Jill G Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents not use harsh disciplinary practices. Previous studies have characterized the disciplinary practices of African American parents as harsh, with reliance on more aggressive techniques not currently recommended by the AAP. However, recent research has indicated more disciplinary practice diversity among African Americans. This study describes factors associated with the use of AAP-recommended disciplinary practices among lower-income African American caregivers of children in Head Start. Methods. Subjects were caregivers of children at three Head Start sites. Participants were eligible for inclusion if the biological mother, biological father, or target child was identified as African American. Using consensus methods, responses to the Parental Discipline Methods Interview (PDMI) were described as consistent or inconsistent with AAP guidelines regarding use of negative disciplinary practices (e.g., spanking, yelling). Caregivers avoiding any of these inconsistent methods were referred to as "adherent." Results. "Adherent" caregivers were older (32.5 years vs. 30.4 years) and had more education (86.0% vs. 75.4% high school graduates). They were also less likely to report that their child had behavioral problems (12.9% vs. 25.2%) or deficient social skills (1.7% vs. 8.0%). Conclusions. Lower-income African American caregivers were more likely to use disciplinary practices consistent with AAP guidelines if they had higher levels of education and were living in an urban setting. Caregivers describing their child as having fewer behavior problems, better social skills, or themselves as less stressed were also more likely to be "adherent."

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)324-330
Number of pages7
JournalPublic Health Reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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