Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Patricia N. Anderson


The problem addressed in this basic qualitative study was understanding the underlying reasons for challenging behavior exhibited in preschool children who experience disruption in social bonds and trust following deployment of a parent. Many teachers and parents are challenged by the need to support these children during this stressful time and untreated stress can lead to long-term issues. The purpose of this study was to increase understanding of teacher and parent perspectives of challenging behavior exhibited in preschool children experiencing disruption in social bonds and trust following deployment of a parent. Interviews of 7 parents and 7 preschool teachers addressed 3 research questions about reasons for challenging behavior, and the disruption of social bonds and trust following a deployment. The conceptual framework for this study was the attachment theory of Bowlby and Ainsworth. Data were analyzed using a priori, open, and axial coding. Results indicated challenging behavior in preschool children following deployment is affected by the strength of the bond and level of trust a preschooler has with a caring adult. Most teachers and parents described the cause of disruption in social bonds as deployment for the reason for challenging behavior. Teachers believed that their strong relationship with preschoolers helps children feel safe and secure following parental deployment. Parents believed that a supportive environment with family and friends makes a positive difference when trust between the child and others is disrupted following parental deployment. Implications for positive social change include improved support strategies and positive outcomes for children that may result from new emphasis on support for social bonds and feelings of trust in children. Children’s challenging behavior may be alleviated when children of deployed parents feel more secure.