Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Positive Parenting Helps Keep Early-Maturing Girls on Track

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Positive Parenting Helps Keep Early-Maturing Girls on Track

Article excerpt

BOSTON -- Positive parenting practices can minimize the impact that negative peer influence has on early-maturing girls and thus can reduce the risk of externalizing problems, results of a study have shown.

For this reason, psychosocial interventions targeting at-risk girls should focus on the parent-family relationship, Sylvie Mrug, Ph.D., reported in a poster presentation at a meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development.

Previous studies have shown that early puberty in girls predicts disruptive behavior, delinquency, and earlier initiation of substance use, and that psychological immaturity and affiliations with older, more deviant peers exacerbate these problems, said Dr. Mrug of the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

To determine the degree to which parenting practices buffer or amplify these effects of early puberty, Dr. Mrug and colleagues analyzed data on 330 fifth grade girls from the three metropolitan areas who participated in phase I of Healthy Passages, a multisite longitudinal study of adolescent health and behavior. The mean age of the girls in the study was 11.25 years. Thirty-nine percent were African American, 35% were Hispanic, and 19% were white; the remaining participants were other ethnicities.

Outcome measures included onset of menarche; caregiver-reported parental monitoring; self-reported aggression (physical, nonphysical, relational); delinquency (fighting, running away from home, truancy); maternal nurturance; and communication with parents about anger, aggression, smoking, puberty, and sex. …

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