Academic journal article Merrill-Palmer Quarterly

Understanding Relations among Children's Shy and Antisocial/Aggressive Behaviors and Mothers' Parenting: The Role of Maternal Beliefs

Academic journal article Merrill-Palmer Quarterly

Understanding Relations among Children's Shy and Antisocial/Aggressive Behaviors and Mothers' Parenting: The Role of Maternal Beliefs

Article excerpt

This study assesses the relationships between children's shy and antisocial/aggressive behaviors and maternal beliefs, and concomitant parenting behaviors. Structural equation models examined 199 mothers' perceptions of aggression and shyness in their preschool-age children (average age = 59.63 months); maternal beliefs (i.e., locus of control, perceived harm, efficacy) about shyness and aggression, respectively; and maternal reported parenting behaviors (i.e., authoritarian, authoritative, permissive). Results suggest both shyness and aggression are negatively associated with maternal efficacy in dealing with shy and aggressive behavior. Lower levels of parenting efficacy beliefs in dealing with child aggression are related to greater levels of authoritarian parenting and less easygoing parenting behavior. Further, child aggression is related to multiple maternal beliefs (e.g., perceived harm, efficacy), whereas child shyness is related only to efficacy beliefs. Taken together, our findings suggest that aggression, though not shyness, may relate to mothers' parenting through associations with maternal beliefs. Findings extend our understanding of the child's role in contributing to the socialization environment associated with maternal beliefs and behaviors.

When parents are asked what behaviors of their children most worry them, many indicate concerns regarding their child's shy or antisocial/aggressive behaviors (e.g., Cheah & Rubin, 2004). Certainly, how parents feel about their child's behaviors are likely not only informed by their child's actual behaviors but also by what parents believe about the nature of these behaviors (e.g., is this harmful for my child?) and whether parents feel efficacious to change their child's behaviors. Thus, an examination of how children's shyness and aggression are related to parenting beliefs and parenting behaviors may lead to a better understanding of how individual characteristics of children (Renken, Egeland, Marvinney, Mangelsdorf, & Sroufe, 2006; Schmitz et al., 1999) contribute to the parenting context in which aggression and shyness are socialized (Baumrind, 1979, 1991).

Building on Sameroff 's (2009) transactional model, we acknowledge that child behaviors are being shaped over time by the dynamic interchange between child characteristics and socializing agents in the child's environment. From this viewpoint, child and parent transactions are understood as having properties of bidirectionality, with the child playing an active role in shaping the socialization context and vice versa (i.e., Bell, 1968). By contrast, past research often explains variations in child behaviors in terms of correlated parenting strategies (for a review, see Pardini, 2008). The interpretation of linkages between parenting and child outcomes are often guided by an understanding of what parents do for the child, by way of parenting practices, rather than how the child's own characteristics might shape parents' beliefs and subsequent parenting behaviors (Chang, Schwartz, Dodge, & McBride-Chang, 2003; Gershoff, 2002; Rydell, Bohlin, & Thorell, 2005). The current study addresses this gap in the literature by examining the child's contribution to their own socialization context (e.g., Grusec, Dix, & Mills, 1982; Jaffee et al., 2004). In doing so, we highlight the underrepresented role that child behaviors may play in guiding maternal beliefs and maternal behaviors. Our overarching goal is to implement an approach that enables us to test the direction of associations between two salient child characteristics (shyness and aggression), with mothers' beliefs about and mothers' parenting practices in response to these child characteristics. This is accomplished by examining competing models that enable us to compare the fitness of the data when controlling for the directionality of the associations between child and parent variables.

To date, few studies have examined how preschoolers' behaviors relate to a mother's beliefs about her child's behaviors (e. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.