Intra-Family Conflict in Relation to Boys’ Adjustment at School


Erin M. Ingoldsby*        Daniel S. Shaw*      Monica M. Garcia*

University of Pittsburgh


Submitted February 28, 1998

Revised and Resubmitted October 20, 1998

Revised and Resubmitted June --, 1999


*Department of Psychology, Clinical Psychology Center, 604 Old Engineering Hall, 4015 O’Hara Street, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, 15260.  Correspondence should be sent to the first author at the address above.


in press, Development and Psychopathology



Several theoretical models of child development have posited the spread of conflict within families; however, few researchers have studied this process in association with relationships children have with teachers and peers at school.  The present study examined the direct, additive, and interactive contributions of interparental, parent-child, and sibling conflict in relation to teacher-child conflict and child-peer conflict in a sample of 117 low-income boys from ages 3-1/2 to 6.  Overall, the results suggest that while conflict in any one dyadic family relationship is only modestly associated with later conflictual relationships with teachers and/or peers, risk for conflict in relationships in the school context increases when multiple forms of early family conflict are experienced.  Results are discussed in terms of models of the development and patterns of conflict across early relationships.         


Keywords:  family conflict, child adjustment, teacher-child relations



This study was supported by grants MH46925 and MH50907 from the National Institute of Mental Health awarded to the second author.  We would like to thank the reviewers for their thoughtful comments and suggestions, Kirsten Yaggi, Suzanne Ten Broeke, and Miles Gilliom for their diligent coding efforts, and study participants for helping us to learn about children and families.