Date of Conferral







Tracy Masiello


Parents seem to manage oppositional conduct of toddlers but struggle emotionally and physically with oppositional conduct of teenagers, despite similarities in the behaviors. Self-efficacy theory, psychological theory of development, and theory of mind guided the conceptualization of how parents perceive and respond to these two sensitive periods of development. This contrasted group quantitative study pursued measurable similarities in the experience of first-time parents of children aged 18-36 months and 14-15 years of age. Establishing parents’ confidence level in their parenting skills and how they perceive and respond to their child's oppositional behavior was also a factor. One hundred and seventy-five parents completed the Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory, 155 of those also completed the Parenting Practices Inventory and Parent Sense of Competence Scale. T tests showed that parents perceive oppositional behavior of the age groups similarly for both intensity of the behavior and the level of problem it creates. Analysis of covariance indicated that parents of teens and parents of toddlers see their child's behavior as not a problem, regardless of level of confidence; however, they perceive the level of intensity of those behaviors differently depending on how confident they feel as a parent. Results showed that parents react differently in punitiveness and view their effectiveness differently based on confidence in their parenting skills. Further examination into the parent's experience can lead to positive social change through parent support programs and evidence-based parent-child interventions to help develop confidence in supporting the challenging period of adolescent development.