Comprehensive Early Childhood Parenting Questionnaire (CECPAQ)


The Comprehensive Early Childhood Parenting Questionnaire was developed to assess the behavior of parents towards their young child (1-5 years). Parenting is multifaceted task and the way in which parents fulfill this task plays an important role in children’s growth and development, especially in early childhood. Existing parenting questionnaires were mostly restricted, as they only assessed one or two dimensions of parenting behavior, or focused on older children. Developing a single questionnaire that taps into multiple parenting dimensions relevant for early child development allows answering a wide range of questions regarding parenting, such as the specificity of parenting and the existence of parenting profiles.

Based on three main theories regarding the role of parenting in early childhood development -attachment theory, Vygotsky’s learning theory, and social learning theory- we deduced five domains of parenting relevant to the development of toddlers and preschoolers:

  1. Support (sensitivity, responsiveness, affection)
  2. Stimulation (activities, exposure, toys)
  3. Structure (consistency, absence of laxness and overreactivity)
  4. Positive discipline (induction and positive reinforcement)
  5. Harsh discipline (physically, verbally, and psychologically aggressive punishment)


Starting from this conceptualization of parenting as consisting of five main domains (support, structure, stimulation, harsh discipline, and positive discipline), four parenting experts selected a range of existing measures of parenting behavior that were available and commonly used to assess parenting behaviors in toddlers and preschoolers. These experts agreed on 65 potential items to assess the parenting behaviors described in the introduction; 15 items for each of the first 4 parenting domains and 5 items to assess positive discipline. Eleven items were dropped because of redundancy or ambiguity (6 items), or because they assessed family routines rather than parenting behavior (5 items). This resulted in a 54 item parenting questionnaire.

The psychometric properties of the CECPAQ were examined in a Dutch sample of 1139 mothers and 526 fathers. Confirmatory Factor Analysis confirmed the 5-factor solution and good reliability for all five parenting domains was found for both mothers and fathers. Meaningful relationships between the CECPAQ and measures of parenting stress and child behavior problems support the validity of the parenting questionnaire. (