“What Matters More, What Parents Do or When They Do It? Clarifying the Mechanics of Parenting Toddlers”
Friday, March 29th, 2013
McClelland Park, RM 402
Abstract: Parenting is a complex socialization process which involves both managing children’s behaviors in the moment and socializing children to internalizing parents’ standards for appropriate behavior later. Quite possibly, the same parenting behaviors that are associated with higher levels of children’s compliance in the moment are less effective in predicting positive adaptation over time. The goal of the present investigation was to examine the extent to which three dimensions of parenting, positive control, negative control, and autonomy promoting parenting, predicted both child behavior in the moment (i.e., compliance and unregulated negative affect) and indices of general problem behavior (i.e., internalizing and externalizing problems). Data come from the Mothers and Preschoolers Study, a longitudinal study of 167 very low income mothers and their 2-year old child assessed annually until their children were 4 years of age. Families resided in the New Orleans metropolitan area.
Regarding ‘what’ parents do, results indicate a pattern of diminished returns for both positive and negative control behaviors on children’s adjustment, but not for autonomy promoting behaviors, which depended on the behavior under consideration. Low to moderate levels of positive and negative control predicted more compliance and reductions in unregulated negative affect, but was unrelated to internalizing and externalizing problems within and across time. In contrast, higher levels of autonomy promoting parenting was associated with lower levels of internalizing and externalizing problems within and across time, but was ineffective in predicting compliance or reductions in unregulated negative affect. Considering ‘when’ parents respond to children, results indicated that mothers’ parenting responses that were contingent upon the children’s behavior deferentially predicted adjustment within and across time. Results will be discussed in terms of implications for interventions designed at promoting social competence and reducing risk for problem behaviors.
Dr. Laura Scaramella’s research examines how children’s temperamental characteristics and parents’ child-rearing style interact during early childhood to affect children’s risk for developing problem behavior during childhood and adolescence. One of her projects is The Mothers and Preschoolers Study (MAPS) which is a federally funded study that involves 180 mothers, their Head Start enrolled child, and a two-year-old target child. Families are interviewed annually at or around target children’s 2nd, 3rd, and 4th birthdays. Families complete a number of activities which are videotaped and later coded by trained coders. The goal of this study is to consider how the quality of target children’s relationships with their mothers and siblings influences their transition into Head Start. The study began in earnest in 2006 and will be completed in 2011.
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