Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Educational Psychology


Marian C. Fish

Subject Categories

Educational Psychology


Behavior Problems, Developmental Delay, Preschool Children


The purpose of this study was to examine how child-specific variables, such as the type and/or level of developmental delay, and family variables, such as family functioning, parenting stress, and parenting self-esteem, relate to the behavior problems in an urban sample of minority preschool children with developmental delays. Participants were 72 parents of preschool children between the ages of 3 - 5 years currently living in Brooklyn, NY, Queens, NY or Jersey City, NJ. Parents in the sample were classified into two groups, parents of "Typically Developing" preschoolers (n = 20) and parents of preschoolers who were considered to have "Developmental Delays" (n = 52) in the cognitive, speech/language, adaptive, and/or motor areas of development and were receiving special education services as mandated by an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Parent participants completed four questionnaires comprised of: 1) Child Behavior Checklist for Ages 1 ½ - 5, 2) The Family Adaptability and Cohesion Scale, 3) the Parenting Stress Index - Short Form, and 4) the Parent Sense of Competency Scale. Parent participants were compensated $20 for completing the measures. Additionally, the teachers of 69 preschool students volunteered to participate by completing the Caregiver-Teacher Report Form and were compensated $5 for their participation.

The results from this study reveal that preschool children with developmental delays are reported by both parents and teachers to have significantly more internalizing, externalizing, and total behaviors than their typically developing peers. Additionally, it was discovered that the mere presence of one developmental delay, regardless of the type or severity of the delay, is associated with higher reported levels of internalizing, externalizing, and total problem behaviors in preschool children. Although the family-specific variables of family functioning, family communication and parenting self-esteem were not related to the behavioral problems of preschool children with developmental delays in this sample, increased levels of parenting stress was found to be associated with increased reports of preschool children's behavior problems. Furthermore, several of the socio-demographic characteristics found within this non-traditional sample, including parents' education level, household income, ethnic background and child gender, appear to increase preschool children's vulnerability to developing severe and persistent behavior problems.