Family Interaction Patterns: Bullying and Victimization in Children (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 22, 2010

Parental Overcontrol

Parents may exert more than a healthy degree of psychological control over their offspring. Overcontrol refers to invalidation of children's feelings by frequently interrupting and remonstrating with children regarding the invalidity of their feelings (Perry et al., 2001, p. 84). Youngsters often, as a result, lose confidence in the validity of their own emotions. Such individuals manifest internalizing (shy and anxious) symptoms.

Coercive Parenting

In summarizing over a decade of research, Olweus (1993) characterized the family lives of bullies as a cold emotional environment punctuated by episodes of "heated" physical and verbal violence. Perry and colleagues described the coercive parenting style in the following terms:

Coercion encompasses direct verbal attacks, bossiness, sarcasm, and power-assertive discipline and surely undermines the child's feelings of being loved and respected. (p. 84)

Young people with the physical and psychological resources to be aggressive with their peers frequently learn their belligerent response patterns from hostile parents and caregivers. It stands to reason that youngsters approach relationships aggressively if the preponderance of interpersonal episodes they encounter reflect physical or psychological control of the weak by the strong. Generally, students learn to be aggressive via coercive parenting styles, but occasionally a youngster will react to parental hostility by becoming shy and anxious and thus become prone to victimization (Perry et al., 2001). The most toxic mix for the advent of aggression and bullying in youngsters of both sexes is permissiveness for violence directed toward siblings and other young people combined with a physically harsh discipline style (Duncan, 2004).

Perry et al. (2001) pointed out that boys tend to become bullies if parenting styles are hostile and aggressive. Girls in hostile environments, on the other hand, tend to manifest the set of behaviors associated with victimization. Boys with oversolicitous, overprotective parents are most at risk for becoming bully victims.

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