Single-child per family studies of family risk and resilience

In some of our work we have used single-child per family designs to examine the links between children’s family circumstances and the development of emotional and behavioral problems. Below we have listed papers showing that the following family risks increase the likelihood that children will show disturbance over the life course: marital conflict, being raised in poverty, teen and single parenthood, parental depression and hostile/angry parenting as well as why these associations occur.

We also know that most children living in high-risk environments do not develop mental health problems. Resilience studies examine the characteristics of individual children or their circumstances, that protect them from developing disturbance even though they are exposed to high-risk environments. Studies that show why children are resilient are marked ‘Resilience’ . In our Kids, Families and Places study ( we examine genetic, temperamental and cognitive vulnerabilities to understand unique responses to family stressors.

More recently, we have moved to studies that include multiple children per family.  Much research shows us that siblings develop very differently from one another, in spite of the fact that they share similar environments.  By looking at similarities and differences in siblings’ experiences and their development we can get a better understanding of how environments shape children’s development. Please see ‘The Complex, Multilevel Structure of Families: Individuals, Dyads and Families’ to read about this work.

Relevant publications

Jenkins, J. M., Smith, M. A., & Graham, P. J. (1989). Coping with parental quarrels. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 28, 182-189.

Jenkins, J. M. and Smith, M. A. (1990). Factors protecting children living in disharmonious homes. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 29, 60-69.

Gass, K. Jenkins, J.M. & Dunn, J. (2007). The sibling relationship as protective for children experiencing life events: a longitudinal study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48, 167-175.

Jenkins, J. M., & Smith, M. A. (1991). Marital disharmony and children’s behaviour problems: Aspects of a poor marriage which affect children adversely. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 32, 793-810.

Jenkins, J. M., & Smith, M. A. (1993). Children’s reactions to divorce: A prospective study. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 19, 143-160.

Goldberg, S., Grusec, J., & Jenkins, J. M. (alphabetical listing). (1999). Confidence in protection: A critique of attachment theory. Journal of Family Psychology, 13, 475-483. (Ref.)

Jenkins, J. M. (2000). Marital conflict and children’s emotions: The development of an anger schema. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 723-736. (Ref.)

Jenkins, J.M. (2003) Mechanisms in the Development of Emotional Organization. In Davies et al. (Eds.) Child Emotional Security and Interpersonal Conflict. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development. Vol. 67, Serial No. 270, 116-127. Sole invited commentary.

Martini, T. S., Root, C. A., & Jenkins, J. M. (2004). Low and middle income mothers’ regulation of negative emotion: Effects of children’s temperament and situational emotional responses. Social Development, 13 (4), 515-530.

Jenkins, J. M., Dunn, J., Rasbash, J., O’Connor T. G., & Simpson, A. (2005) The mutual influence of marital conflict and children’s behavior problems: shared and non-shared family risks. Child Development, 76, 24-39.  //

Root, C., & Jenkins, J. M. (2005) High risk families, maternal appraisal and child psychopathology, Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 33, 193-204.

Jenkins, J.M., Shapka, J. & Sorenson, A. (2006) Teenage mothers’ anger across the life course: Partner choice, partner anger and children’s anger. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47, 775-782.

Ho, C., Bluestein, D. N. & Jenkins, J. (2008) Cultural differences in the relationship between parenting and children’s behavior. Developmental Psychology, 44, 507-522.

Jenkins, J.M. & Curwen, T (2008) The longitudinal impact of child gender, maternal depression, and parental hostility on child emotional difficulties. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 47, 399-405.

Gonzalez, A. Jenkins, J.M., Steiner, M. Fleming, A.S. (2009). The relation between early life adversity, cortisol awakening response and diurnal salivary cortisol levels in postpartum women. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 34, 76-86).

Yagoubzadeh, Z, Jenkins, J.M. & Pepler, D. Transactional models in the relationship between child behavior and maternal negativity: a 6-year longitudinal study. International Journal of Behavioral Development, In press.

Book chapters

Jenkins, J. M. (1992). Sibling relationships in disharmonious homes. In F. Boer & J. Dunn (Eds), Sibling relationships: Developmental and clinical issues. Hove: Erlbaum.  //

Jenkins, J.M. (2008) Psychosocial adversity and Resilience in M. Rutter, D. Bishop, D. Pine, S. Scott. J Stevenson, E. A. Taylor A. Thapar (Eds.) Rutter’s Handbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Blackwell: Oxford. pp. 377-391.