Academic journal article South African Journal of Psychiatry

Parenting Style and Conduct Problems in Children: A Report of Deliberate Self-Poisoning in a Nigerian Child

Academic journal article South African Journal of Psychiatry

Parenting Style and Conduct Problems in Children: A Report of Deliberate Self-Poisoning in a Nigerian Child

Article excerpt

Parenting style can be described as all strategies (behaviours, attitudes and values) parents use to interact with their children and influence their physical, emotional, social and intellectual development. (1) Theories concerning parenting style are not simply about the individual behaviour of parents but refer to a pattern of bi-directional relationships between parents and child. (1)

The driving force behind parenting style research has been the physical and psychosocial well-being of children and families. There has been a drive towards identifying negative and positive parenting attitudes and practices or behaviours and manipulating these appropriately towards a better physical and psychosocial outcome, hence preventing ill health and promoting well-being. (2) Parenting style is important, because several reports indicate that it predicts how children perform in the domains of social competence, psychosocial development, academic performance and problem behaviour. (2-4)

An outstanding analysis of this issue is that of Diana Baumrind, (5) who conceptualised four dimensions of parent-child interaction, namely disciplinary strategies; warmth and nurturance; communication styles; and expectation of maturity and ability to self-control. (5) On the basis of these dimensions, she identified three parenting styles: authoritative, authoritarian, and indulgent or permissive. Maccoby and Martin (6) re-conceptualised the parent-child relationship to two dimensions, consisting of degrees of parental responsiveness to psychosocial needs, which include warmth and support, and parental demands from their children (parental 'demandingness', i.e. how parents control their children's behaviour to achieve psychosocial objectives). Parental responsiveness is reported to predict social competence and psychosocial functioning, while parental 'demandingness' is associated with instrumental competence (academic performance and problem behaviour). This approach led to the identification of a fourth parenting style, i.e. uninvolved or neglectful styles of parenting. (6)

This integrated typology of four parenting styles still forms the theoretical underpinning of much research on parenting styles, and its correlates and outcome. (2) These four styles may be described as follows: authoritative parents are high on both demanding and responsiveness measures; authoritarian parents are high on demanding but low on responsiveness measures; indulgent parents are high on responsiveness and low on demanding measures; and uninvolved parents are low on both demanding and responsiveness measures.

Research into child behaviour outcomes associated with each parenting style has traditionally suggested that authoritative parenting has benefits over the others. Generally, children of such parents perform well in all domains (social competence, psychosocial development and instrumental competence), (1-7) having more friends, better school performance, more self-discipline and emotional self-control. Children from uninvolved families are poorer in all the domains, (3,4,7) while those with authoritarian parents may do well academically and behaviourally but are poor in social skills, have low self-esteem and an increased level of depression and risk of suicide. (3,7) Indulgent parenting produces children more likely to be involved in problem behaviours (substance abuse, deviant behaviour and school misconduct); they have a lower level of academic performance but better social skills and lower levels of depression. (3,7)

It is important to note that parenting styles vary not only with geography, religious belief, culture and specific families, but also between and within individual parents. (8,9) Factors that determine parenting styles have been studied extensively; (8,9) they include family and personal values, parental culture, religion and personality, temperament of parents and of the child, socio-economic status and ethnicity. …

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