Background: Poverty circumstances tax physiological systems that respond to stress. Yet research suggests that supportive parenting may offer some protection. The present study uses daily interview methodology to probe how parents might structure children’s days to promote lower stress levels in the context of poverty risks. Method: Participants were 139 children who attended a Head Start preschool. Mean age was 4 years, 2 months, and 48.9% were identified as female, and 51.1% as male. Approximately 52.6% were identified as Black/African American, 16.6% as Latino/Hispanic American, 8.6% as Asian American and 22.3% as White/European American. Nearly 100% faced economic hardship. Ethical standards were followed, and all procedures were approved by the WCU IRB. Primary caregivers completed interviews, conducted over the telephone by trained research assistants, to collect information about daily routines on 10 days across two weeks. Child cortisol was measured via assays of saliva samples collected at 9am, just following preschool drop-off and prior to breakfast. Results and Implications: Results of a zero-order correlational analysis suggested that, of the activity categories in the present study, more playtime related to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and later bedtime related to higher levels of cortisol. In a regression analysis, both playtime and bedtime explained unique variance in cortisol. Implications concern how parents might structure children’s days to foster physiological regulation in the context of poverty-related stress and suggest that both playtime and bedtime matter.
Shokunbi, F., Murphy, M., & Garnet, M. (2021). Playtime and Bedtime relate to Stress Levels for Children facing Economic Hardship. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.wcupa.edu/psych_stuwork/20