Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type

Thesis Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chairperson

Eleanor D. Brown, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Vanessa K. Johnson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Susan E. Gans, Ph.D.


A considerable body of research documents the challenges that racism and poverty pose for children’s academic success. Given the achievement gaps that separate economically disadvantaged children from their more affluent counterparts and children from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds from their majority group counterparts beginning in early childhood, persistence in the face of academic challenge is critical for these children’s academic success. The present study takes a strength-based approach and focuses on positive parenting characteristics that may foster young children’s persistence in the face of challenge. Participants were 63 children attending Head Start preschool and their primary caregivers. An observational coding system was used to capture parent behavior while assisting their child with a challenging puzzle task. Children’s persistence was measured via a subsequent, different challenging puzzle task completed independently under the supervision of a research assistant. Results of a zero-order correlation analysis suggested that parent-child relatedness, parent emotion socialization, and parent mastery orientation as coded on the parent-child task, related to children’s persistence on the subsequent challenging task. Measured demographic variables did not share significant relations to children’s persistence. Results suggest the importance of looking beyond demographic risks to consider parent strengths that may promote persistence in the face of challenge for children from low-income and poor households, and from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds.