Executive function in kindergarten and the development of behavior competence: Moderating role of positive parenting practices

Michelle M. Cumming, Daniel V. Poling, Irina Patwardhan, Isabella C. Ozenbaugh

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Scopus citations


    The present study used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study–Kindergarten Cohort of 2011 (N = 15,827; 51.1% male; 48.4% White, 13.5% Black/African-American, 24.3% Hispanic/Latinx, 7.5% Asian, and 6.3% other ethnicity) to examine the unique contribution of specific executive function processes (working memory and cognitive flexibility) at kindergarten entry on externalizing and internalizing behavior problems in spring of kindergarten, after controlling for fall behavior problems and demographic covariates. Due to the transition to elementary school being a critical identification and prevention period, we also focused on examining the moderating role of specific positive parenting practices (i.e., cognitive stimulation, warmth, and behavior management) on associations between child executive function processes and behavioral functioning. Results indicated working memory was negatively associated with parent-reported externalizing and teacher-rated internalizing behavior problems. Further, the association between working memory and parent-rated externalizing problems was moderated by cognitive stimulation, whereas the association between parent-rated internalizing problems was moderated by behavior management. Cognitive flexibility did not have any significant associations. We discuss implications for research and practice on how parenting practices may be leveraged to improve child outcomes.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)161-172
    Number of pages12
    JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
    StatePublished - Jul 1 2022


    • Behaviors
    • Cognitive flexibility
    • Executive function
    • Kindergarten
    • Parenting
    • Working memory

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education
    • Developmental and Educational Psychology
    • Sociology and Political Science


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