Family Contribution to Affective Development in Middle Childhood (page 2)
School-age children’s emotional competence is related to parents’ feelings of self-efficacy (Coleman & Karraker, 2000; Grusec & Mammone, 1995). If parents think that their children are behaving appropriately, the adults are more likely to experience feelings of success in child-rearing, or high parenting self-efficacy. On the other hand, if parents think that their children’s behavior is “out of control,” they are more likely to feel unsuccessful as parents. Low self-efficacy parents often give difficult children inconsistent affective messages, for example, negative messages delivered in a teasing or joking style (Grusec & Mammone, 1995).
In addition, parents may make inferences, called attributions, about the causes of children’s misbehavior, such as whether a behavior was intentional or accidental. The more intentional a negative behavior is seen to be, the more angry parents become. Such negative attributions may, in turn, influence parents’ expectations about school-age children’s future coping behaviors. If they view their children’s behavior as intentional, parents are more likely to view problem behaviors as influenced by personality traits (internal attribution) than by environmental circumstances (external attribution) (for a review of parental attribution, see Grusec & Mammone, 1995).
Children’s resistance to parental control has been shown to directly predict middle childhood behavior problems (Bates, 2000). When researchers examined the effects of family factors on fifth- and sixth-graders’ self-control, they found that the quality of mother-child interactions and mothers’ self-control were related to the self-control of the school-age children themselves, regardless of the number of parents or number of siblings in the home (Zauszneiwski, Chung, Chang, & Krafcik, 2002).
Many studies have demonstrated that school-age children’s self-esteem is enhanced by parental practices that
- Offer acceptance, approval, affection, and involvement.
- Treat the child’s interests and problems as meaningful.
- Give the child reasons for rules and enforce limits fairly.
- Encourage children to uphold high standards of behavior.
- Use noncoercive forms of discipline, such as denial of privileges.
- Take into account the child’s opinions in decision making. (Baumrind, 1978; Coopersmith, 1967; Harter, 1996a)
Researchers have found that open communication between parents and children between ages 5 and 10 is related to lower levels of harsh discipline and higher levels of positive child adjustment in middle childhood (Criss, Shaw, & Ingoldsby, 2003). In addition, parenting that involves the granting of autonomy along with high levels of involvement and modest levels of structure from parents has also been associated with academic competence, general conduct, and positive psychosocial development in adolescence (Gray & Steinberg, 1999a). For African American, Asian American, and Latino American students, however, this style of parenting is not as strong a predictor of academic success and other positive outcomes as it is for European Americans (Chao, 2001; Steinberg, Dornbusch, & Brown, 1992).
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