May 31, 2022—Findings in a study published in Child Development show a circular relationship between harsh parenting styles and child behavior.
Harsh parenting, as defined by the study, included yelling and spanking. The study suggested that children’s behavioral problems and maladaptive parenting have a bidirectional relationship, with each increasing the other—the more aggressive the parenting, the more expressive the negative behavior and vice versa.
United Kingdom researchers studied children from ages 0 to 17. Data was collected at 9 months, 3, 5, 7, 11, 14 and 17 years old.
“Findings not only highlight that parenting practices, such as smacking or shouting, may have detrimental effects on children’s mental health but also that children presenting with behavioral issues may place additional strain on maternal parenting behaviors,” the researchers concluded. “Consequently, it is crucial for interventions aiming to reduce the occurrence of socioemotional problems, and particularly the co-occurrence of emotional and conduct problems, to focus on the whole family system and specifically on parenting behaviors”
Children who enter adolesce and adulthood after developing socioemotional behaviors in childhood have increased chances of delinquency or mental health challenges throughout the course of their lives.