Leon Kuczynski

Professor Emeritus
Department of Family Relations & Applied Nutrition



Leon Kuczynski is a developmental psychologist who does empirical and theoretical research in parent-child dynamics, socialization and  parent-child relationships.

He is interested in children's agency and influence in the context of the family. parenting  and  bidirectional  <—>  influence between parents and children. 

 He conducted research on nonclinical families as well as families undergoing adversities such as parental depression, child abuse, conduct disorder, and multi-stressed families and foster children. 

He is  also interested in family dynamics as it pertains to culture (e.g. China, Singapore, Jamaica) and immigrant family acculturation.

Key theoretical contributions:  

  • Developmental/Relational Perspective on Children's Agency 
  • Social Relational Theory
  • Bilateral Model of Parent-Child Relationships


PhD - University of Toronto


Faculty - Department of Family relations and Applied Nutrition 1985-2019

  • Professor Emeritus 2019
  • Professor  1998;     Associate Professor 1989;    Assistant Professor 1985

Postdoc – Laboratory of Developmental Psychology, National Institutes of Mental Health – Bethesda, Maryland  

  •  Staff Research Fellow 1979-1982 
  •  Associate Scientist      1982-1985

PhD – Department of Psychology  - University of Toronto,1979

MSc – Department of Psychology -  University of Toronto,1973

BSc –  Department of Psychology -  University of Toronto,1972

My research focuses on children’s agency and influence within a dialectical model of bidirectional influence between parents and children.

My empirical research includes topics such as;

  • children’s resistance  (noncompliance) Age range studied: 18 months-18 years
  • children’s internalization of values
  • children's influence on parenting and parental development
  • parent-child intimacy
  • relational context of  parent-child dynamics
  • cultural context of parent-child relationships (Canada,Jamaica, China, Singapore)
  • family acculturation





SOCIAL RELATIONAL THEORY -SRT)   Kuczynski & De Mol, 2015; Kuczynski, Parkin & Pitman, 2014; Kuczynski & Parkin, 2007

 A comprehensive dialectical approach to understanding children's agency abd  bidirectional causality in the context of long-term, interdependent, and culturally embedded parent-child relationships.



  1.    Transactional (dialectical) Model of Bidirectonal Causality 
  2.    Model of Children's Agency : Construction, Action, Autonomy
  3.    Dialectical Model of Power: Interdependent Assymetry
  4.    Model of Parent-Child Relationship Context : Long-term, Complex, Interdependent, Culturally Embedded, 



Children's Resistance (noncompliance) as Agency  Kuczynski et al 1987, Kuczynsk & Kochanska 1990, Kuczynski & Hildebrandt 1997, Goh & Kuczynski, 2008

                                                                                          Parkin & Kuczynski 2012;  Burke & Kuczynski 2018; Kuczynski, Pitman, Twigger, 2018; Robson & Kuczynski 2018

Bidirectional Model of Internalzation/Acculturaltion  Kuczynski, Marshall & Schell, 1997;  Kuczynski & Navarra, 2006; Kuczynski, Navarra & Boiger,2011; Kuczynski & Knafo, 2014

Parent-child Intimacy                                                    Oliphant & Kuczynski, 2011;  Burke, Kuczynski & Perrens, 2017

Parent-child Relational Dynamics                               Lollis & Kuczynski, 1997, Dawber & Kuczynski, 1999; Harach & Kuczynski, 2005; Kuczynski & De Mol, 2015

Relational Agency/Efficacy                                         Kuczynski & De Mol, 2015; De Mol, J., Reijmers, E., Verhofstadt, L., & Kuczynski, L. 2018. 

Teacher-Child Relationships.                                     Quan-McGimpsey, Kuczynski & Brophy, K. 2011; Quan-McGimpsey, Kuczynski, & Brophy, K., 2012

Parental-Socialization Goals.                                     Kuczynski 1984;  Trickett & Kuczynski 1987; Grusec & Kuczynski, 1980






Kuczynski, L. (2003). Handbook of Dynamics in Parent-Child Relations. Twin Oaks CA: Sage.   doi.org/10.4135/9781452229645

Grusec, J.E. & Kuczynski, L. (1997). Parenting and the Internalization of Values:  A Handbook of Contemporary Theory.  N.Y.: Wiley


Journal Articles

Goh, E.C.L & Kuczynski, L. (2021). Relational dimensions in poor children’s decisions to obtain a mobile phone – the case of Singapore, Journal of Children and Media DOI:10.1080/17482798.2021.1905675

Sorbring, E. & Kuczynski (2019). Children’s agency in the family, in school and in society: implications for health and well-being. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being. https://doi.org/10.1080/17482631.2019.1634414

Nelissen S., Kuczynski L., Coenen L., & Van den Bulck J. (2019). Bidirectional socialization in media research: An actor-partner interdependence model of Internet self-efficacy anddigital media guidance between parents and children. Communication Research. 1-26.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0093650219852857

Kuczynski, L; Pitman, R., Twigger, K. (2019). Flirting with resistance: Children’s expression of autonomy in middle childhood.  International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being. https://doi.org/10.1080/17482631.2018.1564519

Goh, E.; Wan Har Chong, W.H., Mohanty, J.,  Law, E., Hsu,S,  De Mol, J., Kuczynski, L. (2019). Study Protocol for Identifying Positive Adaptive Pathways in Low-Income Families in Singapore. JMIR Res Protoc 2019 | vol. 8 | iss. 2 | e11629 DOI: 10.2196/11629

Robson, J. & Kuczynski, L (2018). Deconstructing noncompliance: parental experiences of children’s challenging behaviors in a clinical sample. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being.13:sup1:1563432.   doi: 10.1080/17482631.2018.1563432

Burke, T. & Kuczynski, L. (2018). Jamaican Mothers’ Perceptions of Children’s Resistance Strategies for Parental Rules and Requests. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1786 doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01786

De Mol, J., Reijmers, E., Verhofstadt, L., & Kuczynski, L. (2018). Reconstructing a sense of relational agency in family therapy. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy.  39, 1, 54-66. https://doi.org/10.1002/anzf.1278

Walton, K., Kuczynski, L., Haycraft, E., Breen, A. Haines, J. (2017). Time to re-think picky eating?: A relational approach to understanding picky eating. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 14:62, 1-8DOI: 10.1186/s12966-017-0520-0

Burke, T., Kuczynski, L. & Perren, S. (2017) An exploration of Jamaican mothers’ perceptions of closeness and intimacy in the mother–child relationship during middle childhood. Frontiers of Psychology, 8, 2148   doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02148

Kuczynski, L., Pitman, R., Ta-Young, L. Harach, L. (2016). Children’s Influence on parents’ adult development:  Mothers’ and fathers’ receptivity to children’s requests for change.  Journal of Adult Development,23:193–203.       DOI:10.1007/s10804-016-9235-8

Murray,S.H., Milhausen,R.R., Graham, C.A., & Kuczynski,L (2017). A qualitative exploration  of factors that affect sexual desire among men aged 30 to 65 in long-term relationships, The Journal of Sex Research, 54:3, 319-330,  DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2016.1168352

DiCroce, M., Preyde, M., Flaherty, S., Waverly, K., Karki-Niejadlik, N., Kuczynski, L. (2015). Therapeutic engagement of adolescents with emotional and behavioral disorders.  Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal, 1-13. DOI:10.1007/S10560-015-0419-Z

Quan-McGimpsey, S., Marziliano, S.C., Hassen, T. G., Brown, A.S.& Kuczynski, L. (2015) Early education teachers’ conceptualizations and strategies for managing closeness with the class in child care, Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 22, 514-526 DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2014.995475

Chee, L. P, Goh, E. & Kuczynski, L. (2014). Oversized loads – Child parentification in low-income families and underlying parent-child dynamics” Families in Society, 95(3) 204-212. https://doi.org/10.1606/1044-3894.2014.95.26

De Mol, J., Lemmens, G., Verhofstadt, L., & Kuczynski, L. (2013). Intergenerational transmission in a bidirectional context. Psychologica Belgica, 7, 53/3, 7-23 https://doi.org/10.5334/pb-53-3-7

Goh, E., & Kuczynski, L. (2013). ‘She is too young for these chores’: Is housework taking a back seat in urban Chinese childhood?  Children and Society, 28, 280-291.   https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1099-0860.2012.00470.x

Parkin, C.M., & Kuczynski, L. (2012). Adolescent perspectives on rules and resistance within the parent-child relationship. Journal of Adolescent Research, 27, 555-580. https://doi.org/10.1177/0743558411435852

Quan-McGimpsey, S., Kuczynski, L., & Brophy, K. (2012). Tensions between the personal and the professional in close teacher-child relationships. Journal of Research in Childhood Education,27,111-126. DOI: 10.1080/02568543.2012.738287

Oliphant, A. & Kuczynski, L. (2011). “Mothers’ and fathers’ perceptions of mutuality in middle childhood: The domain of intimacy,” Journal of Family Issues. 32 (8), 1104 –11https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X11402946

Quan-McGimpsey, S., Kuczynski, L., & Brophy, K. (2011). The early education teachers’ conceptualizations and strategies for managing closeness in child care: The personal domain. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 9, 232-246. https://doi.org/10.1177/1476718X10389146

Mitchell, M. B., Kuczynski, L., Tubbs, C. Y. & Ross, C. (2010). We care about care: Advice  by children in care for children in care, foster parents, and child welfare workers about the transition into foster care. Child and Family Social Work 15,176-185.https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2206.2009.00657.x

 Mitchell, M. B., & Kuczynski, L. (2010). Does anyone know what is going on?: Examining children’s lived experience of the transition into foster care. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 437-444. DOI:10.1016/j.childyouth.2009.10.023

Goh, E., & Kuczynski, L. (2010). Only children and their coalition of parents: Considering grandparents and parents as joint caregivers in urban Xiamen, China. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 13, 221-231.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-839X.2010.01314.x

Goh, E., & Kuczynski, L. (2009). Agency and power of single children in multi-generational families in urban Xiamen, China. Culture and Psychology, 15, 506-532. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354067X09344881

Kuczynski, L., & Parkin, C. M. (2009). Pursuing a dialectical perspective on transaction: A social relational theory of micro family processes. In A. Sameroff (Ed.), The transactional model of development: How children and contexts shape each other (pp. 247–268). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/11877-013

Harach L. D. & Kuczynski, L. (2005).  Construction and maintenance of parent-child relationships: Bidirectional contributions from the perspective of parents.  Infant and Child Development, 14, 327-343. https://doi.org/10.1002/icd.393

Sheeshka, J., Potter, B., Norrie, E., Valaitis, R., Adams, G. and Kuczynski, L. (2001).Womens' experiences of breastfeeding in public places. Journal of Human Lactation, 17(1), 31-38.  DOI: 10.1177/08903344010170010

Grusec, J. E., Goodnow, J. J., & Kuczynski, L.  (2000).  New directions in analyses of parenting contributions to children’s acquisition of values.  Child Development, 71, 205-211.  doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.00135

Dawber, T. & Kuczynski, L.  (1999).  The question of ownness: Influence of relationship context on parental socialization strategies.   Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 16, 475-493. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407599164004

Lollis, S. & Kuczynski, L. (1997). Beyond One Hand Clapping: Seeing Bidirectionality in Parent-Child Relations. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 14, 441-461.https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407597144002

Kuczynski, L. & Kochanska, G. (1995).  Function and content of maternal demands: developmental significance of early demands for competent action.  Child Development, 66, 616-628.https://doi.org/10.2307/1131938

Kochanska, G. & Kuczynski, L. (1991).  Maternal autonomy granting: Predictors of normal and depressed mothers' compliance with the requests of 5-year- olds.  Child Development, 62, 1449-1459. https://doi.org/10.2307/1130818

Kuczynski, L. and Kochanska, G. M. (1990). The development of children's noncompliance strategies from toddlerhood to age 5. Developmental Psychology, 26, 398-408.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.26.3.3Kochanska, G.,

Kuczynski, L., & Maguire, M. (1989). Impact of diagnosed depression and self-reported mood on mothers’ control strategies: a longitudinal study. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 17(5), 493–511. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00916509

Kochanska, G., Kuczynski, L. Radke‑Yarrow, M. (1989).  Correspondence between mothers' self-reported and observed childrearing practices. Child Development, 60, 56-63.doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.1989.tb02694.x

Kochanska, G., Kuczynski, L. Radke‑Yarrow, M. & Welsh, J. (1987). Resolutions of control episodes between well and affectively ill mothers and their young children.  Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 15, 441-456. doi: 10.1007/BF00916460

Kochanska, G., Radke‑Yarrow, M., Kuczynski, L. & Friedman, S.L. (1987). Normal and affectively ill mothers' beliefs about their children.  American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 57, 345-350.  doi: 10.1111/j.1939-0025.1987.tb03543.x

Kuczynski, L., Kochanska, G., Radke-Yarrow, M. & Girnius-Brown, O. (1987).  A developmental interpretation of young children's noncompliance. Developmental Psychology, 23, 799-806.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.23.6.799

Kuczynski, L., Zahn‑Waxler, C. & Radke-Yarrow, M. (1987). Development and content of imitation in the second and third year of life: A socialization perspective.  Developmental Psychology, 23, 276-282.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.23.2.276

Trickett, P.K. & Kuczynski, L. (1986).  Children's misbehaviors and parental discipline strategies in abusive and non‑abusive families. Developmental Psychology, 22, 115‑123.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.22.1.115

Yarrow, M.R., Cummings, E.M., Kuczynski, L. & Chapman, M. (1985).  Patterns of attachment in two‑ and three‑year olds in normal families and families with parental depression.  Child Development, 56, 884‑893. https://doi.org/10.2307/1130100

Kuczynski, L. (1984). Socialization goals and mother‑child interaction:  Strategies for long‑term and short‑term compliance. Developmental Psychology, 20, 1061‑1073. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.20.6.1061

Kuczynski, L. (1983).  Reasoning, prohibitions and motivations for compliance.  Developmental Psychology, l9(1),126‑134    https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.19.1.126

Kuczynski, L. (1982).  Intensity and orientation of reasoning:  Motivational determinants of children's compliance to verbal rationales. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 34, 357‑370. https://doi.org/10.1016/0022-0965(82)90066-2

Grusec, J.E., & Kuczynski, L. (1980).  Direction of effect in socialization:  A comparison of parent vs. child's behavior as determinants of disciplinary techniques.  Developmental Psychology,16,1‑9. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.16.1.1

Grusec, J.E., Kuczynski, L., Rushton, J.P., & Simutis, Z.M. (1979). Learning resistance to temptation through observation. Developmental Psychology, 15, 233‑240   https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.15.3.233

Grusec, J.E., Kuczynski, L., Rushton, J.P., & Simutis, Z.M. (1978). Modeling, direct instructions and attributions:  Effects on altruism. Developmental Psychology, l4, 51‑57. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.14.1.51

Grusec, J.E. & Kuczynski, L. (1977). Teaching children to punish themselves and effects on subsequent compliance.  Child Development, 48, 1296‑1300.  https://doi.org/10.2307/1128487


Chapters in Books

Kuczynski, L., & De Mol, J. (2015). Dialectical Models of Socialization. In W. F. Overton & P. C. M. Molenaar (Eds.). Theory and Method.  Volume 1 of the Handbook of Child Psychology and Developmental Science. (7th ed., pp. 326-368), Editor-in-Chief: Richard M. Lerner. Hoboken, NJ: Wile    https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118963418.childpsy109

Kuczynski, L, Parkin, M, Pitman, R.  (2014).  Socialization as Dynamic Process: A Dialectical, Transactional Perspective. In J.E. Grusec and P. Hastings (Eds.)   Handbook of Socialization. (2nd ed. pp135- 157), NY: Guilford Press.

Kuczynski, L. and Knafo, A. (2014).  Innovation and continuity in socialization, internalization and acculturation. In M. Killen and J.G. Smetana (Eds.). Handbook of Moral Development, 2nd edition (pp. 93-112) Taylor and Francis Publishers.

Kuczynski, L. (2011) “Socialization and child rearing.” In Heather Montgomery (ed) Oxford Bibliographies Online: Childhood Studies, pp. 1-34. New York: Oxford University Press.   doi: 10.1093/OBO/9780199791231-0035

Kuczynski, L. Navara, G., Boiger, M. (2011). The Social Relational Perspective on Family Acculturation. In S.S. Chuang, & R.P. Moreno, R. P. (Eds.) On new shores: Understanding immigrant children in North America (pp. 171-192) Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Kuczynski, L. Pitman, R., & Mitchell, M.B. (2009). Dialectics and transactional models: conceptualizing antecedents, processes, and consequences of change in parent-child relationships. In J. Mancini & K. Roberto (Eds.)  Pathways of Development: Explorations of Change (pp. 151- 170). MA: Lexington Books.

Kuczynski, L. (2009). Discipline in Families. In H., Reiss & S. Sprecher (eds) Encyclopaedia of Human Relationships.  Thousand Oaks, CA Sage.

Kuczynski, L. & Parkin, M. (2007).  Agency and bidirectionality in socialization: Interactions, transactions, and relational dialectics. In J.E. Grusec & P. Hastings (Eds.) Handbook of Socialization, (pp. 259-283) NY: Guilford.

Kuczynski, L. & Navara, G. (2006). Sources of change in theories of socialization, internalization and acculturation. In M. Killen & J. Smetana (Eds), Handbook of Moral Development (pp. 299-327). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Kuczynski, L. (2004). Children’s Influence on Family Dynamics: The Neglected Side of Family Relationships.   [Review of the book Children’s Influence on Family Dynamics: The Neglected Side of Family Relationships]. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 28, 284-286.

Kuczynski, L. (2003). Beyond bidirectionality: bilateral conceptual frameworks for understanding dynamics in parent-child relations (pp.1-24).  In L Kuczynski (Ed.) Handbook of Dynamics in Parent-Child Relations. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage. doi.org/10.4135/9781452229645.n1   

Kuczynski, L. (2003). Dynamics in parent-child relations: introduction and overview. In L. Kuczynski (Ed),) Handbook of Dynamics in Parent-Child Relations (pp. ix-xv). Thousand Oaks CA: Sage.https://sk.sagepub.com/reference/handbook-of-dynamics-in-parent-child-relations

Kuczynski, L. & Daly, K. (2003). Qualitative methods as inductive (theory‑generating) research: psychological and sociological approaches In L Kuczynski (Ed.) Handbook of Dynamics in Parent-Child Relations, (pp. 373-392).   Thousand Oaks CA: Sage.Chapter DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781452229645.n18

Kuczynski, L., Lollis, S. & Koguchi, T. (2003). Reconstructing common sense: metaphors of bidirectionality in parent-child relations (pp.421-438). In L Kuczynski (Ed.) Handbook of Dynamics in Parent-Child Relations. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage.http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781452229645.n20

Kuczynski & Lollis (2004).  The child as agent in family life. In H. Goelman & S.K. Mashall (Eds.)  Multiple lenses, multiple images: perspectives on the child across time, space and disciplines, 197-229.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Kuczynski L., & Lollis, S. (2002).  Four foundations for a dynamic model of parenting.  In J.R.M. Gerris (Ed).   Dynamics of Parenting. International Perspectives on Nature and Sources of Parenting (pp.445-462).  Leuven: Garant Publishers.

Byrne, C., Pape, B.  Ivask, A.  Kuczynski, L., Browne, G.,Whittaker, S., Rae Grant, N. & Ashford, R..N.   (2001). Service needs of families where one parent has affective illness: Implications for service education and policy. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, 20, 107-121.

Kuczynski, L. (2001) The development of values.  International Encyclopedia of the Socialand Behavioral Sciences.  Amsterdam: Elsevier Science.

Kuczynski, L., Harach, L., & Bernardini, S.C (1999). Psychology’s child meets sociology’s child: Agency, power, and influence in parent-child relations. In (C. Shehan, Ed) Through the Eyes of the Child: Revisioning Children as Active Agents of Family Life, pp. 21-52. Stamford, Ct: JAI Press.

Kuczynski, L. (1998).   Reflections of a Closet Qualitative Researcher.   The Genetic Epistemologist, 26, (2). http://www.piaget.org/GE/1998/GE‑26‑2.html

Kuczynski, L., Marshall, S. & Schell, K. (1997). Value Socialization in a Bidirectional Context.   In J. E. Grusec and L. Kuczynski (eds.) Parenting and the Internalization of Values: A Handbook of Contemporary Theory. (pp.23-50). N.Y.: Wiley.

Kuczynski, L & Grusec, J.E.  (1997).  Future directions for a theory of parental socialization. In J.E. Grusec & L. Kuczynski (Eds) Parenting and the Internalization of Values: A Handbook of Contemporary Theory. (pp, 398-413).  NY:Wiley.

Kuczynski, L. & Hildebrandt, N. (1997). Models of Conformity and Resistance in Socialization Theory. In J .E. Grusec and L. Kuczynski (eds.) Parenting and the  Internalization of Values: A Handbook of Contemporary Theory. (pp. 227-256) N. Y.: Wiley.

Yarrow, M.R., Cummings, E.M., Kuczynski, L. & Chapman, M. (1993).  Patterns of attachment in two‑ and three‑year olds in normal families and families with parental depression. Article reprinted in M. Gauvain & M. Cole Readings in the Development of Children. N.Y. Freeman.

Kuczynski, L. (1992). The concept of compliance in childrearing interactions. In J. Janssens and J. Gerris (Eds.) Childrearing and the Child's Prosocial and Moral Development. Swets & Zeitlinger, Lisse, The Netherlands.

Kochanska, G., Kuczynski, L. Radke‑Yarrow, M. (1991).  Correspondence between mothers' self-reported and observed childrearing practices.  Article reprinted in J. DeLoache (Ed). Current Readings in Child Development.  Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Yarrow, M.R. & Kuczynski, L. (1983).  Conceptions of environment in childrearing interaction.  In D. Magnusson, V.S. Allen (Eds.) Personality Development as Person‑Environment Interaction.  Academic Press, 57‑74.

Kuczynski, L. (1980). Reasoning with children:   Motivational determinants of children's self‑control.     Dissertation Abstracts International, 40, 5869B‑5870B.


I am currently analyzing and developing articles from a major qualitative project on Socialization in Middle Childhood. These include mother and child interviews and diary data  and can serve as source of projects beyond the students’ thesis research.

I am engaged in international interdisciplinary collaborations with scholars interested in applying social relational theory to disciplines such as family therapy, social work and communication research.

I am a collaborator on a  longitudinal study,: Identifying Positive Adaptive Pathways in Low-income families in Singapore (Esther Goh,P.I.  National University of Singapore)