Academic journal article Journal of Early Childhood and Infant Psychology

Current Measures for Assessing Parenting of Young Children

Academic journal article Journal of Early Childhood and Infant Psychology

Current Measures for Assessing Parenting of Young Children

Article excerpt

Research links parenting with a host of child outcome variables, such as academic achievement (Collins, Maccoby, Steinberg, Hetherington, & Bornstein, 2000), cognitive development (Ryan, Martin, & Brooks-Gunn, 2006), dropping out of school (Marcus & Sanders-Reio, 2001), and emotional regulation (Dallaire et al., 2006). Further, parenting is related to children's social-emotional development in terms of misbehavior (DelVecchio & O'Leary, 2006), social-emotional adjustment (Brook, Zheng, Whiteman, & Brook, 2001), and social skills (Rhoades & O'Leary, 2007). Although these linkages are firmly presented in the research literature, there seems to be relatively little interest in assessing parenting in school and clinical settings. Yet, parent assessment, as well as parent education, is critical in order to address to the needs of children and their families. In assessing children, practitioners can focus not only on the individual child but take a broader perspective, capturing children's individual strengths and needs as well as the child's family dynamics and environmental milieu.

In contrast to child cognitive and social-emotional assessment instruments (e.g., Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Fourth Edition, Behavior Assessment System for Children-Second Edition), there is no "gold standard" in terms of measures regarding parenting. Even so, there are many parenting measures that are currently being used although they vary along a number of dimensions. For example, some can be used in clinical practice (e.g., to identify dysfunctional parenting styles) and others were designed for research use. In addition, the instruments vary according to what they assess, and although some measure parenting globally, others assess specific parenting behaviors (e.g., discipline). The target populations for assessment also differ, with some designed for parents of children from specific age groups and others specifically for mothers or fathers. Further, other factors are in play in that some parenting measures are developmentally sensitive, psychometrically strong, and/or based on theory and a definition of parenting.

This article examines current parenting self-report measures rather than parent observation systems or interview protocols. Self-report measures tend to be easy to administer, user friendly, and cost-effective. Although observations have the advantage of providing direct indications of parenting behaviors, self-report measures offer the benefit of not being situation-specific. In the end, self-report measures tend to be practical and offer clinicians significant information for diagnostic, case conceptualization, and intervention purposes. In terms of this review, three measures of parent behaviors (i.e., Parent Behavior Inventory, Parent Behavior Checklist, Parent Behavior Importance Questionnaire-Revised) and two instruments regarding the parenting relationship (Parent Child Relationship Inventory, Parent Relationship Questionnaire) are examined in terms of:

1. Focus and purpose

2. Age of the child in relation to parenting

3. Scores obtained

4. Theoretical support

5. Evidence-based support and psychometric strength

6. Potential for intervention.

Parent Behavior Measures

Parent Behavior Inventory (PBI)

Lovejoy, Weis, O'Hare, and Rubin (1999) recognized that in dysfunctional families, parenting practices were often impaired in the areas of support/engagement (e.g., behavior showing parents' acceptance through affection, shared activities, and support) and hostility/coercion (e.g., behavior expressing parents' negative feelings or indifference through coercion, threats, or physical punishment). The authors developed the Parent Behavior Inventory (PBI) to measure these dimensions in parents of young children, specifically preschool and young school-age children. Thus, the purpose of the PBI is to measure supportive/engaged and hostile/coercive behaviors; the authors provide no specific theoretical basis for this scale. …

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