Raising Girls with Emotional and Behavioral Challenges: An Exploration of Caregiver Perceptions

Elisabeth H. Rice, Margaux H. Brown, Darcie Whitlow, Karen Ihrig, Kandace M. Hoppin, Melissa Boston, Adelaide Kelly-Massoud, Amy Srsic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: Caregivers of youth with emotional and behavioral challenges can experience isolation, stigma, and a lack of resources as well as parental stress and caregiver strain. Few studies have qualitatively explored caregivers’ perceptions of raising girls with emotional and behavioral challenges. A team of researchers explored three research questions: (1) How do caregivers of girls with emotional and behavioral challenges perceive their experiences with their daughters at home and in school? (2) What do caregivers perceive to be the most helpful at home or school for their daughters, and (3) What are the constructs of parent coping among caregivers of girls with emotional and behavioral challenges? Methods: Researchers used a snowball sampling method to recruit and then conduct semi-structured interviews with 16 caregivers from urban, suburban, and rural areas. Results: Results indicated that caregivers perceived their daughters’ behaviors to be complex, that schools failed to identify girls for services and used reactive rather than proactive services, and that therapy and medication were helpful to the daughters and families. Additionally, caregivers reported coping through focusing on outside activities and through the support of family and friends. Conclusions: Themes from this study were congruent with findings in caregiver strain literature. Caregivers also discussed managing the negative reactions of others and wanting to feel understood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020



  • Caregivers
  • Emotional and behavioral challenges
  • Girls
  • Mental health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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