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Articles written by NIEER and published by outside organizations

Journal Articles

Child behavior problems, teacher executive functions, and teacher stress in Head Start classrooms.


December 11, 2017

By Friedman-Krauss, A. H., Raver, C. C., Neuspiel, J. M., & Kinsel, J. (2014).

The current article explores the relationship between teachers’ perceptions of child behavior problems and preschool teacher job stress, as well as the possibility that teachers’ executive functions moderate this relationship. Data came from 69 preschool teachers in 31 early childhood classrooms in 4 Head Start centers and were collected using Web-based surveys and Web-based direct assessment tasks. Multilevel models revealed that higher levels of teachers’ perceptions of child behavior problems were associated with higher levels of teacher job stress and that higher teacher executive function skills were related to lower job stress. However, findings did not yield evidence for teacher executive functions as a statistical moderator.

Practice or Policy: Many early childhood teachers do not receive sufficient training for handling children’s challenging behaviors. Child behavior problems increase a teacher’s workload and consequently may contribute to feelings of stress. However, teachers’ executive function abilities may enable them to use effective, cognitive-based behavior management and instructional strategies during interactions with students, which may reduce stress. Providing teachers with training on managing challenging behaviors and enhancing executive functions may reduce their stress and facilitate their use of effective classroom practices, which is important for children’s school readiness skills and teachers’ health.