Problemi u ponašanju i školski uspjeh djece pod utjecajem su različitih individualnih i obiteljskih rizičnih čimbenika. U okviru teorija privrženosti, učenja po modelu, modela obrade socijalnih informacija i integracije emocionalnih procesa u obradu socijalnih informacija, prijašnja su istraživanja ispitivala povezanost roditeljskih odgojnih stilova i postupaka, izvršnih funkcija i empatije s problemima u ponašanju ili školskim uspjehom. Međutim, malo je istraživanja koja su proučavala ulogu izvršnih funkcija i empatije djeteta kao čimbenika rizika u odnosu između roditeljskog odgoja i izraženosti problema u ponašanju i školskog uspjeha djece. Osobito nedostaju istraživanja koja ispituju navedene odnose među varijablama u uzorku djece rane osnovnoškolske dobi, iako je kognitivni, emocionalni i socijalni razvoj u toj dobi najintenzivniji. Slijedom navedenog, cilj istraživanja bio je ispitati medijacijsku ulogu izvršnih funkcija i moderacijsku ulogu empatije djeteta u objašnjenju odnosa između roditeljskih odgojnih stilova i postupaka i problema u ponašanju te školskog uspjeha djece. Istraživanje je provedeno u uzorku od 143 para roditelj–dijete te 49 učiteljica osnovnih škola. Za prikupljanje podataka korištene su procjene roditelja i učitelja te učinak djeteta u bihevioralnim zadacima. Hipoteze istraživanja provjeravane su korištenjem linearnog strukturalnog modeliranja. Rezultati su pokazali da su izvršne funkcije djece potpuni medijator odnosa između pozitivnih roditeljskih postupaka i problema u ponašanju. Konkretnije, pozitivni roditeljski postupci predviđali su smanjenje izraženosti teškoća u izvršnim funkcijama djece, što je dovelo do manje izraženosti problema u ponašanju kod djece. Osim toga, interakcija emocionalne empatije i autoritativnog roditeljskog stila predviđala je nižu razinu problema u ponašanju kod djece, a interakcija kognitivne empatije i pozitivnih roditeljskih postupaka predviđala je višu razinu školskog uspjeha iz hrvatskog jezika. Zanimljivo je da se interakcija motoričke empatije i pozitivnih roditeljskih postupaka pokazala prediktorom niže razine školskog uspjeha iz matematike. Moguće je da zaokupljenost emocionalnim procesima druge osobe tijekom interakcije opterećuje kognitivne mogućnosti djeteta potrebnih za učenje matematike. Uz metodološke doprinose, nalazi ovog istraživanja nude spoznaje koje se mogu koristiti kao smjernice za buduća istraživanja u području razvoja u ranoj osnovnoškolskoj dobi. Osim toga, rezultati istraživanja mogu se primijeniti u sustavu obrazovanja usmjeravanjem na primjenu intervencija koje će potaknuti razvoj izvršnih funkcija kod djece rane osnovnoškolske dobi u svrhu prevencije kasnijih problema u ponašanju.
Introduction Development of social-emotional and school competencies during childhood is important for promoting positive adjustment and reducing risk in adolescence and early adulthood. Early school age is a sensitive period because of the rapid development of cognitive, emotional and social skills. Problem behaviors (e.g., aggression and hyperactivity) are relatively frequent in early school-age children and highly predictive for psychopathology in adulthood. Children’s school success is a powerful marker of career-oriented and financial achievement. Also, better school achievement is related to higher level of subjective well-being. Therefore, it is important to explore individual and familial risk factors that can contribute to the development of different problem behaviors and lower school achievement in early schoolage children. Number of studies have shown that parents have a dominant role in shaping children’s behavior in early childhood. Parental warmth and the authoritative parenting style have shown to have very small to small negative concurrent and longitudinal associations with problem behaviors. On the other hand, harsh control and authoritarian parenting were associated with a higher level of problem behaviors. Parenting has also an important role in children’s school achievement. Research have shown that parental warmth and authoritative parenting style were concurrently and longitudinally positively related to children’s school success. On the other hand, harsh parenting and authoritarian parenting style were related to lower school success. Children's executive function deficits have been linked to a number of childhood problem behaviors. For example, it was shown that deficits in working memory, inhibition, shifting and planning predicted future aggression and hyperactivity symptoms. Executive functions have also been linked to children's school success, such as better reading and mathematics skills. Children's empathy has also been related to childhood problem behaviors and school success. Higher level of empathy was linked to children’s aggressive and hyperactive behavior, as well as with better reading and mathematics skills. Although previous research showed some inconsistencies, parenting style and practices, children's executive functions and empathy were found to be significant predictors of problem behavior and school success in early school-age children. On the contrary, little is known about the role of children's executive functions and empathy in explaining the association between parenting style and practices and problem behaviors and school success in early school-age children. Therefore, the goal of this research was to explore the contribution of individual and familial factors in explaining children’s problem behaviors and school success. Additionally, the study aimed to investigate a mediation role of children’s executive functions and a moderation role of empathy in explaining the relation between parenting style and practices and early school-age children’s problem behaviors and school success. Methodology: A representative sample consisted of 143 parent-child dyads and 49 teachers. Parents completed Parenting Style Questionnaire (PSQ), Croatian version of Parental AcceptanceRejection Questionnaire (PARQ/Control-Croatian) and Childhood Executive Functioning Inventory (CHEXI). Children were administered four executive function behavioral tasks. Teachers completed Empathy Questionnaire (EMQUE) and Croatian version of Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ-Cro). Questionnaires were translated in a pilot study using the forward-backward procedure and validated. Parent-child dyads were individually observed in the department laboratory where the questionnaires and behavioral tasks were administered, while teachers participated at their work place. Families were compensated for their participation with a toy/school supplies for a child, and teachers received the promotional material. Structural Equation Modeling was used for hypotheses testing. Results: The results partially confirmed hypotheses. Controlling for children’s gender and intellectual abilities, the examination of direct effects showed that authoritative parenting style was a negative predictor of children’s problem behaviors. Authoritarian parenting style was a positive predictor of children’s executive function deficits. Executive functions measured by behavioral tasks predicted higher level of children’s hyperactivity symptoms, and higher language and mathematics grades. Additionally, structural equation modelling showed indirect mediation effects of parentrated children’s executive function deficits in the association between positive parental practices and teacher-rated children's problem behaviors. Positive parental practices predicted lower level of children’s executive function deficits, which in turn were associated with lower level of children’s problems behaviors. Boys were in a higher risk for conduct problems, while boys and children with lower intellectual abilities were in a higher risk for hyperactivity and inattention symptoms. Results indicate that parents model self-regulated behavior, and by processing social information during interaction with others children learn to control their aggressive and hyperactive behavior. This leads to reduced aggression and hyperactivity symptoms in children. Results also showed that empathy dimensions were significant moderator of the association between parenting and children’s problem behaviors and school success. In particular, interaction between affective empathy and authoritative parenting style predicted lower level of children’s problem behaviors, while interaction between cognitive empathy and positive parental practices predicted higher level of children’s language grades. Results indicate that children whose parents employ positive practices during interaction with others learn to inhibit their aggressive and hyperactive behavior and become more willing to learn by processing emotional information. Interestingly, interaction between motor empathy and positive parental practices predicted lower level of children’s mathematics grades. Results suggest that a preoccupation with another person's emotional processes during the interaction has a negative impact on child's cognitive resources for learning mathematics. Conclusion: Children’s executive functions and empathy had a significant role in explaining the relation between parental style and practices and children’s problem behaviors and school success. Future studies should focus on including children’s individual characteristics such as executive functions and empathy in explaining the relation between parenting and various developmental outcomes in children. More studies should be conducted in a sample of early school-age children in order to expand our knowledge about this intense developmental period. Methodological contributions of this study included the triangulation of data sources involving parents, teachers and early school-age children. Additionally, parental rating, as well as behavioral tasks were used in the measurement of children’s executive functions. Future studies should explore possible different relations od rating scales and behavioral tasks of executive functions with positive adjustment in early school-age children. Additionally, future studies should investigate possible different role of empathy in explaining language and mathematics skills. This study suggests that executive functions reduce social difficulties of early school-age children whose parents employ positive parenting practices. Interventions should be aimed at children' s executive function training programs in parent-child interaction, as well as in educational settings.