Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Psychology

Supervisor

Dr. Graham Reid

Abstract

Throughout the night, brief periods of arousal are common and not necessarily indicative of problematic sleep. Awakening without an easy return to sleep (“night-waking”), however, can be problematic for parents and children alike. Approximately 30% of preschool-aged children wake at least once per night and require parental intervention (“help or assistance”). Although parents’ responses to children’s night-waking (i.e., parents’ night-waking strategies) can determine the course of night-waking over time, very little is known about night-waking strategy use among parents of preschool-aged children. The purpose of the present dissertation was to lay the foundation upon which a better understanding of the relationship of parenting to night-waking among preschool-aged children can be built. In order to accomplish this goal, four measures were created: the Children’s Night-waking Behaviour Scale (CNBS), the Night-waking Vignettes Scale (NVS), the Parents’ Night-waking Thoughts and Affect Questionnaire (PNTQ), and the Night-waking Strategies Scale (NSS). Rigorous measurement development protocols were followed. These measures, as well as parent-report measures of children’s night-waking and questionnaires used to assess construct validity, were completed by a sample of 203 mothers (M age = 32.4 years, SD =5.1) of preschool-aged children (M age = 3.4 years, SD = 1.0). All four measures displayed adequate to good reliability and promising evidence of convergent validity was observed. Significant associations between the measures and children’s night-waking were also observed. Following measurement development and validation, a series of multiple regressions were conducted to explore associations among the measures and identify areas for further research. In these regressions, mothers’ night-waking strategies (as measured by the NSS) were significantly predicted by children’s behaviour during night-wakings (as measured by the CNBS), mothers’ agreement with night-waking strategies (as measured by the NVS), and mothers’ thoughts and affect during night-waking episodes (as measured by the PNTQ). Clinical and research implications of these findings are discussed.


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