Childrearing Patterns and Children's Social Relationships
The types of relationships children form with their peers have been consistently linked with their parents' childrearing patterns. Findings from Baumrind's (1991b) research show that school-age children of authoritative parents have more positive relationships with their peers than do children whose parents are authoritarian, permissive, indulgent, or uninvolved. The encouragement of children's participation in decision making by authoritative parents appears to provide them the experience needed to engage in thoughtful and responsible behaviors when interacting with their peers. According to Hart, Newell, and Olsen (2003), the behavioral control exercised by authoritative parents promotes their children's ability to use self-regulation in social situations. The authoritative parenting style also has been related to children's behaviors that reflect empathy and altruism (Aunola, Stattin, & Nurmi, 2000) and more positive social functioning with family members and peers (Zhou, Eisenberg, & Losoya, 2002).
In comparison to children whose parents are authoritative, children whose parents are authoritarian tend to be less socially adept (Aunola et al., 2000) and more at risk for behavior problems. The social problems of children whose parents are authoritarian have been attributed to their parents' overly strict and often harsh use of discipline. Authoritarian parents frequently rely on physical punishment in disciplining their children and the use of physical discipline is often supported by cultural beliefs. The findings of Lansford, et al. (2005), however, showed that physical discipline has a negative impact on children's development even in cultures where this approach to discipline is endorsed. In their interviews of parents and school-age children in China, India, Italy, Korea, the Filipines, and Thailand, Lansford and colleagues discovered that the higher use of physical punishment is consistently associated with more aggression and anxiety in children.
Children of permissive parents also have more difficulties in peer relationships than do children of authoritative parents due to their behaviors that are typically immature. They often lack impulse control, and show less social responsibility in comparison to children whose parents are not permissive (Baumrind, 1991b). Other school-age children who tend to suffer socially are those whose parents are uninvolved (Steinberg, 1996). Because children of uninvolved parents receive low levels of affection and often endure high levels of criticism and hostility from their parents, they are likely to experience problems in developing and sustaining friendships with other children. As early as preschool, these children tend to be noncompliant and their noncompliant behavior is associated with peer rejection during the school-age years (Jacob, 1997).
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