Behavior disorders and mental retardation: The family system perspective

Malka Margalit, Shmuel Shulman, Naomi Stuchiner

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21 Scopus citations


The aim of this study was to investigate feelings of stress among parents of mentally retarded children who demonstrate behavior disorders. The interrelations of the children's pathology and family climate variables with the levels of parental stress were studied. The sample consisted of 39 families with moderately mentally retarded children divided into two groups: Children demonstrating disruptive behavior (n = 17), and children who did not demonstrate behavior disorders (n = 22). The instruments included the Child Behavior Checklist, the Classroom Behavior Inventory, the Family Environment Scale, and the Questionnaire on Resources and Stress. Significant differences between the children's levels of pathology validated the two groups' division. The children with disruptive behavior were discribed by their parents as more hyperactive and aggressive, and were described by their teachers as more distractable and dependent on adults. No significant differences were found between the profiles of family climate among the two groups of parents. However, levels of children's pathology and aspects of family climate predicted the parental stress, pinpointing different patterns of variables for fathers and mothers. Further studies should be addressed to the interrelations between children's pathology, family climate, and parental feelings of stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-326
Number of pages12
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes


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