Family economic stress and preschooler adjustment in the Chinese Context: The role of child routines

Yu Xu, Lixin Ren, Rebecca Y.M. Cheung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Guided by the family stress model, this study tested competing mediating vs moderating hypotheses regarding the role of consistent child routines in the relation between family economic stress and child adjustment (i.e., behavioral problems and social skills). A total of 508 parents of preschool-aged children from China completed measures of family economic stress, child routines, and child adjustment. Structural equation modeling was used to test the mediating and moderating effects of consistency in child routines in separate models. Both models indicated good fit to the data. Specifically, consistency in child routines mediated the relation between economic stress and children's behavioral outcomes. However, the competing model showed that consistency in child routines did not emerge as a moderator. The present study suggested that parents having a higher level of economic stress had more difficulties in maintaining consistent child routines in the family context, which, in turn, was associated with children's higher levels of behavioral problems and poorer social skills. Nevertheless, consistent child routines did not buffer the negative effects of family economic stress on child adjustment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107599
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Publication statusPublished - May 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavioral problems
  • Child routines
  • Chinese preschoolers
  • Economic stress
  • Social skills


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