ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2015, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (7): 914-927.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2015.00914

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The Influence of Parent-child Relationship and Teacher-child Relational #br# Climate on Rural Migrant Children’s Early Behavior Problems

LI Yanfang1,2,3; LIU Lijun1,2,3; LV Ying1,2,3; LUO Fang3,4; WANG Yun1,2,3

  1.  (1 School of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, 2 National Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, 3 National Innovation Center for Assessment of Basic Education Quality, 4 School of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China)
  • Received:2014-10-08 Published:2015-07-25 Online:2015-07-25
  • Contact: LI Yanfang, E-mail:


In recent years, there has been a remarkable increase in rural migrant children with 0 to 5 years of age, which accounts for one third of all Chinese rural migrant children from 0 to 17 years of age. Previous studies regarding rural migrant primary/ secondary students consistently found that rural migrant children showed more frequent behavior problems, which were closely related to their relationships with parents and teachers. However, no empirical study to date has addressed the influence of adult-child interpersonal relationships on young rural migrant children’s social behavior. To address this issue, the present study focused on a group of rural migrant children in kindergartens and examined the links between the parent-child relationship, the teacher-child relational climate (which was obtained by averaging teacher-reported ratings of teacher-child closeness and teacher-child conflict for all sampled children in each classroom), and the young rural migrant child’s problem behaviors. In addition, the interaction between parent-child relationship and teacher-child relational climate was investigated. The data were obtained from the Preschool Education Quality Evaluation Project that was conducted in one district in Beijing. Among 97 kindergartens in this project, the ones with at least 5 rural migrant children were selected, resulting in 40 kindergartens including 336 classes which were used to construct the classroom-level data. In each class, 40% of children were randomly selected. In total, 2894 urban children [Beijing urban household registration; M (SD)month age = 53.42 (9.70), range = 30~79 months old] and 536 rural migrant children [rural household registration outside of Beijing; M (SD)month age = 53.46 (9.80), range= 31~74 months old] constituted the participants in the present study. Children’s primary caregivers reported mother and father’s educational levels, family monthly income, child’s age and gender, and parent-child relationships. One experienced teacher of each class individually rated teacher-child relationships and children’s behavior problems. We used Hierarchical Linear Model (HLM) to construct two-level models including individual level and classroom level to investigate how the parent-child relationship and teacher-child relational climate independently and interactively influenced early internalizing and externalizing behavior problems of urban preschoolers and rural migrant preschoolers. The results were as follows: (1) Both parent-child conflict and teacher-child conflictual climate were significant risk factors for both urban and rural migrant children’s behavior problems. (2) Teacher-child close and conflictual climate had greater influences on urban children’s (as compared to rural migrant children’s) internalizing problems. (3) For rural migrant children who had frequent conflict with their parents at home (dual-risk children), teacher-child conflictual climate had a less detrimental influence on their externalizing behavior problems. (4) Greater parent-child closeness compensated for internalizing behavior problems of rural migrant children who experienced higher levels of teacher-child conflictual climate. The present study expands the research about Chinese rural migrant children into the early childhood period and enriches the international literature about interpersonal relationships and underprivileged children’s development. Findings underscore the importance for parents and teachers to develop emotionally closer and less conflictual relationships with children. For urban children, teachers are advised to construct positive relationships with them to support their behavior development. Parents of rural migrant children would be wise to cultivate close relationships with their children to protect them from developing behavior problems. In addition, guiding parents to establish close relations with rural migrant children should be emphasized in the family-kindergarten cooperation.

Key words: parent-child relationship, teacher-child relational climate, young rural migrant children, behavior problems