Parent Accommodation of School-aged Children with Severe Temper Outbursts

Emily Hirsch, Fordham University


Parent accommodation, or changes parents make to their own behavior to alleviate or avoid their child’s distress, is associated with children’s increased symptomatology, functional impairment and poorer treatment response in a range of psychiatric conditions. Although temper outbursts and other disruptive behaviors have been found to uniquely predict parent accommodation in children with OCD and anxiety disorders, the relationship between parent accommodation and temper outbursts across diagnoses has not been examined. Moreover, while researchers have found that parent accommodation is related to child anger and distress, they do not operationally define or systematically examine these constructs. Thus, the current study examined the prevalence, phenomenology, and clinical correlates associated with parent accommodation of school-aged children (6.0 – 9.9 years) with severe temper outbursts (STO). Participants included 35 parent-child dyads from a larger research study (n = 14) and a child and adolescent mental health clinic (n = 21). Measures included diagnostic interviews, a scale assessing children’s temper outbursts, and a measure of parent accommodation. Results showed that parents of children with STO engaged in high rates of accommodation; in addition, greater parent accommodation was associated with greater frequency and severity of temper outbursts. Further, child anger during tantrums was a stronger predictor of parent accommodation than distress. Overall, the findings indicate that family accommodation is a phenomenon that applies broadly to children who exhibit severe temper outbursts and suggest that accommodation should be a focus in treatment for families of these children.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Hirsch, Emily, "Parent Accommodation of School-aged Children with Severe Temper Outbursts" (2018). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10931934.