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Parenting and internalizing problems : testing models of bidirectional socialization in early childhood

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Parenting and internalizing problems : testing models of bidirectional socialization in early childhood

Sullivan, Caroline (2007) Parenting and internalizing problems : testing models of bidirectional socialization in early childhood. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Internalizing problems (IP) comprise the most common form of psychological difficulty in early childhood. Variations in parental socialization have been identified as consistent correlates of young children's IP. In particular, overprotection, punitiveness, and criticism have been associated with children's IP. These associations are principally based on single time-point studies, however, such that the direction of effect cannot be inferred, but there is some evidence to suggest that children's anxious characteristics and parental over-control predict each other over time. Thus, results suggest bidirectional processes may be operating to maintain children and parents on stable, maladaptive pathways of development. The current study tested a bidirectional model on a sample of 89 families (87 mothers and 55 fathers) with a preschool-aged child (38 girls and 51 boys) using a short-term (16 months) longitudinal design, with repeated assessments of parenting and children's IP. Mothers reported three times on children's IP using the Child Behavior Check List (CBCL), and mothers and fathers reported twice on their parenting using the Child Rearing Practices Report (CRPR). Scores for strict authoritarian control, protective control, and authoritative parenting were derived. Path analyses and hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) were used to examine directions of effect. Analyses identified mother and father parental effects on children as well as child effects on maternal and paternal parenting. However, most of the significant effects were not direct, but moderated by other child characteristics, such as sex of child, suggesting that reciprocal influences between parents and children may be even more complex than previously thought. The only direct effect of parenting was that mothers' earlier authoritarian control predicted higher levels of later IP. Conversely, mothers' earlier authoritative parenting predicted fewer subsequent IP for boys only, and only boys' initial IP predicted lower maternal protectiveness later. Similarly, younger preschoolers with more IP initially also had mothers who were less protective later, but this was not seen for older preschoolers. Effects of fathers' parenting were moderated by the severity of children's initial IP, such that fathers' initial authoritative and protective parenting predicted lower levels of later IP only for children who initially had fewer IP, whereas these beneficial effects were not found for children who were high on IP originally. Findings imply that current models of socialization need to be re-evaluated and redefined to be applied to younger children as well as to children with more clinical levels of difficulties. Clinical implications include the importance of including parents and children in treatment and of intervening early in the child's development. Finally, the importance of including fathers in socialization research and treatment cannot be underestimated. Overall, this research clearly points to the importance of examining questions of socialization with properly-designed, longitudinal studies and sophisticated, robust tests of change and influence. Continuing to build on the sophistication of our science might reveal things that overturn current perspectives. Socialization is likely to be even more complex and multi-faceted than we think.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Sullivan, Caroline
Pagination:xiii, 202 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Psychology
Date:2007
Thesis Supervisor(s):Hastings, Paul
ID Code:975253
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 16:04
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:39
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