Shifting responsibility for daily tasks from parents to children: developmental timetable and associated variables
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As children develop, parents gradually transfer responsibility for managing daily tasks to them. This everyday phenomenon is observed in most families regardless of whether children have disabilities or not. Surprisingly, little research directly investigates this phenomenon. This dissertation contains two studies. The first documented the developmental timetable of responsibility shift among typically developing children. The second study explored which variables were associated with responsibility shift in both typically developing children and children with disabilities. Both studies used the Responsibility Domain of the Pediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory- Computer Adaptive Test (PEDI-CAT) to examine the shift of responsibility from parents to children for daily life management. Both studies utilized an existing dataset, which has parent-report data on a U.S. nationally representative sample of 2,205 typically developing children (48.9% females, age range 0-20, about 100 children per age year) and a sample of 617 children with disabilities (37.3% females, age range 0-20). In the first study, we obtained descriptive statistics and identified two critical ages for each daily task: (a) starting age (when more than 50% of children were first reported to have taken at least some responsibility), and (b) full responsibility age (when more than 50% of children were first reported to have taken full responsibility). We then examined which groups of Responsibility Domain items showed similar age patterns. We found that the shift of responsibility extended for a period of 5 years or longer in many items. The second study used separate multiple regressions to identify which child, parent, and family characteristics were associated with responsibility shift in both typically developing children and children with disabilities. We found that the child's age (older), temperament (focused), and birth order (youngest) were significantly associated with higher scores across samples. We found that developmental delay, intellectual disability, autism, or orthopedic/movement impairments were associated with lower scores. This dissertation research provides preliminary information on the timing and associated variables of responsibility shift. Results begin to fill a significant gap in our knowledge regarding this phenomenon. Clinicians may find the information helpful when planning individualized interventions to teach daily task management to children with disabilities.
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