Background Parenting behaviours influence child well‐being and development. However, much of the research on parenting behaviours and their correlates has focused on caregivers of healthy, typically developing children. Relatively less is known about the parenting behaviours of caregivers of children with chronic health conditions.
Objective To examine and compare three parenting behaviours (positive interactions, consistency and ineffective parenting) among caregivers of children with neurodevelopmental disorders and/or externalizing behaviour problems, before and after accounting for child and family socio‐demographic characteristics.
Methods Participants (n= 14 226) were drawn from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, a long‐term study of Canadian children that follows their development and well‐being from birth to early adulthood. Children (and their caregivers) were divided into four groups according to the presence of a neurodevelopmental disorder (NDD; n= 815), the presence of an externalizing behaviour problem (EBP; n= 1322), the presence of both conditions (BOTH; n= 452) or neither of these conditions (NEITHER; n= 11 376).
Results Caregivers of children in the NEITHER group reported significantly higher positive interaction scores and lower ineffective parenting behaviours than caregivers of children in any of the other three groups. Caregivers of children in the EBP and BOTH groups reported similar levels of consistency, but significantly lower levels than caregivers of NDD or NEITHER children. These associations largely remained after accounting for child and family socio‐demographic characteristics, with two exceptions: caregivers' reports of positive interactions were no longer significantly associated with child's NDD and BOTH conditions.
Conclusions Parenting children with multiple health conditions can be associated with less positive, less consistent and more ineffective parenting behaviours. Understanding the factors that are associated with the challenges of caring for these children may require additional research attention.