Parent-Child Relationships (page 2)
During middle childhood, parent-child relations become increasingly reciprocal, with parent-child interactions consisting less of caregiving or playing and more of supervising from a distance than in early childhood (McHale, Dariotis, & Kauh, 2003). For example, Table provides tips for parental monitoring of children’s Internet use. As a result of both individual child development and changing social expectations, parent-child relations in middle childhood involve:
- Increased cognitive abilities for solving concrete problems
- Greater physical and social knowledge
- More involvement with peers and contexts outside the family
- Increased emphasis on school adjustment and academic achievement
- Greater capacity for self-regulation and social responsibility (adapted from Peterson, Madden-Derdich, & Leonard, 2000)
Although individual child characteristics have been associated with the later development of problem behavior, “children who are at risk for persistent antisocial behavior by middle childhood have already experienced initial but powerful social interactional learning in the family setting” (Smith, Sprengelmeyer, & Moore, 2004, p. 240). For example, school-age children’s problem behavior can elicit more negative behavior from their own parents—as well as other children’s parents. In other words, the relationship between children’s behavior and parenting behavior is a complex bidirectional process (Smith et al., 2004; see also Stafford, 2004).
Recently, parenting research has been sharply criticized for assuming that parenting practices cause developmental outcomes even though most studies have been correlational (Kerr, Stattin, Biesecker, & Ferrer-Wreder, 2003). As an alternative, parenting scholars have proposed a systems approach to conceptualizing communication processes within families. In this model, illustrated in Figure , communication patterns are seen as bidirectional, meaning that parenting behaviors, such as support or criticism, can evoke emotional reactions in their children, which in turn influence how children respond to parents (Kerr et al., 2003).
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