Handbook of Communication and Social Interaction Skills

By John O. Greene; Brant R. Burleson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 19
PARENTING SKILLS
AND SOCIAL—COMMUNICATIVE
COMPETENCE IN CHILDHOOD
Craig H. Hart
Lloyd D. Newell
Susanne Frost Olsen
School of Family Life, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

The ways that children implement social and communication skills in peer-group interaction provide the foundation for successful later life adjustment (Rubin, Bukowski, & Parker, 1998). Research findings suggest that a host of variables are involved (Hart, Olsen, Robinson, & Mandleco, 1997). These include family processes involving marital and sibling relationships, parenting (e.g., Dunn, 2002; Hart, Nelson, et al., 2000; Stafford & Bayer, 1993), biologically based genetic and temperament factors (e.g., Pike, 2002; Plomin & Rutter, 1998; Sanson, Hemphill, & Smart, 2002), and extrafamilial influences, including the peer group, schools, media, and culture (e.g., Hart, Yang, Nelson, Jin, & Nelson, 1998; Howes & James, 2002; Ladd, Buhs, & Troop, 2002; McDougall, Hymel, Vaillancourt, & Mercer, 2001).

The focus of this chapter is on parenting linkages to social and communicative skill outcomes in children during early and middle childhood. Our aims are threefold. First, we conceptualize the nature of social and communicative skills that lend themselves to peer-group success across early and middle childhood. The practical significance of these skills for psychosocial adjustment and the consequences of low skill development are discussed. Second, parenting skills that can enhance or diminish the formation of child competencies are considered, as are the complex interplay between nature and nurture that results in individual differences among children. We take issue with recent arguments suggesting that parents matter little in children's development (Harris, 1998, 2000, 2002). Third, we overview intervention studies that are designed to enhance parenting skills and child competencies and that may result in subsequent changes in child social and communicative outcomes.

Preparation of this chapter was supported by the Family Studies Center at Brigham Young University.

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