Parenting, Children's Behavioral Problems, and the Social Information Processing among Children

By Goraya, Fatima; Shamama-tus-Sabah, Syeda | Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research, Summer 2013 | Go to article overview

Parenting, Children's Behavioral Problems, and the Social Information Processing among Children


Goraya, Fatima, Shamama-tus-Sabah, Syeda, Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research


The aim of the present research was to investigate the relationship between parenting, children's social information processing, and their behavioral problems. Sample of the study consisted of 106 children (n = 52 boys; n = 54 girls), the age range of 8 to 11 years, their mothers, and their teachers. Parent Questionnaire (Doyle & McCarty, 2002), Home Interview with Child (Dodge, 1986), and Child Behavior Checklist (Achenbach & Rescorla, 2001) were used to assess parenting behaviors, children's social information processing, and their behavioral problems respectively. It was hypothesized that negative parenting will positively predict children's behavioral problems, positive parenting will negatively predict children's behavioral problems, and finally children's hostile social information processing will positively predict their behavioral problems over and above parenting. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses was used for hypotheses testing. The results of the study provided support for the hypotheses.

Keywords: social information processing, children's behavioral problems, parenting

Contemporary viewpoints on parenting differentiate between parenting styles and parenting practices (e.g., Darling & Steinberg, 1993; Mize & Pettit, 1997) and further between parenting dimensions and types (e.g., Barber, Stolz, & Olsen, 2005) as well. Parenting style is described as being reflected in the emotional tone of parent-child relationships and in the behaviors which display a general orientation of parents towards the child (e.g., acceptance vs. rejection). Parenting practices are behaviors which are primarily goal-oriented parenting behaviors i.e., they are supposed to have an effect for example, parent helping a child with homework or helping him/her resolve a conflict with a sibling. Apart from this, parenting typologies are also used to categorize parents according to different combinations of parenting behaviors. The classic work of Baumrind (1967) is best known in this regard. However, over the years the typological approach had fallen out of favor because researchers started to "unfold" the typologies to understand in depth that which parenting dimension had the greatest amount of significance at different points in development (Barber et al., 2005).

These parenting dimensions can be negative or positive and researchers have considered a number of indicators of negative parenting dimension for example, parental rejection (Rohner, 2004), intrusiveness (Barber et al., 2005), and harsh physical discipline (Gershoff, 2002). When it comes to parenting, harsh discipline used by parents has been researched the most and findings generally suggest that children who are exposed more to harsh discipline by their parents are at a greater risk of developing a number of externalizing (e.g., aggression) and internalizing (e.g., anxiety) behavior problems (Gershoff, 2002), suffer from a decline in their well-being (Amato & Fowler, 2002), and score lower on measures of social skillfulness rated by their teachers (Pettit, Bates, & Dodge, 1997). Among the most frequently researched negative outcome or behavioral problem occurring as a result of harsh discipline is child aggressive behavior.

Researchers have indicated that harsh parenting is a predictor of aggressive behavior in children (Deater-Deckard, Dodge, Bates, & Pettit, 1996; Pettit & Arsiwalla, 2008; Swinford, DeMaris, Cernkovich, & Giordano, 2000; Weiss, Dodge, Bates, & Pettit, 1992). Numerous styles of positive parenting have also been studied (e.g., warmth, involvement, teaching) and researchers have suggested that when positive parenting is used more it results in less behavioral problems and more good adjustment of the child. Positive parenting results in lessened externalizing problems (Eisenberg et al., 2005) and also in lower levels of noncompliance and negative affect, and higher levels of positive affect (Webster-Stratton, 1998). …

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