Pass and colleagues took a look at around 60 mothers in the UK who were diagnosed with anxiety disorders (specifically, social phobia with about half also having generalized anxiety disorder) and 60 mothers who weren’t. They compared information gathered on their children as they were getting ready to begin formal schooling (around 4 ½ years old). After the children completed the first term of school, the researchers gathered more information from mothers and also from teachers.
The researchers used data from a nationally representative sample of over 11,000 children gathered in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study’s Kindergarten Cohort of 1998-1999. Children included in the study were from one of four racial groups: White/Non-Hispanic, Hispanic, Black/Non-Hispanic, and Asian. Using data from both kindergarten and third grade for the students, they collected information on spanking, child externalizing behaviors (e.g., arguing and fighting), and parent background (e.g., family income-to-needs, parent education, marital status, and employment status).
Since then, the attack on parents appears to be relentless. Our media outlets are filled with misinterpretations (and sometimes accurate interpretations) of research findings and statements by clinicians that directly or indirectly blame parental behaviors for their kids’ problems.
Research suggests that divorce in and of itself is not destructive to children, but rather it is ongoing parent conflict that takes the lead in negative child outcomes. For high conflict parents, those that cannot seem to work cooperatively and respectfully on behalf of their children, who drag out parenting decisions, spend inordinate amounts of time in litigation, and/or do not follow through with parenting agreements even when court ordered, there is a service worth considering. In fact, it will oftentimes be court ordered when the abovementioned get too severe. That service is parenting coordination.
Stover and colleagues describe the “spillover” theory to explain this process. That is, high conflict marriages can breed emotional distress in the parents that leads to decreased parenting quality. Another interpretation of the theory is that the emotional arousal that happens in one family relationship (in this instance, marriage) can bleed into other family relationships (such as that between parent and child).
The study took place in New Zealand and included 93 preschool boys that were placed in a “hyperactive” group, control group, or in another comparison group where symptoms were present but less severe and, thus, gave the researcher the ability to look at a wide range of ADHD symptoms. According to the author, only boys were included both because of logistics and because they tend to have more observable behaviors linked to ADHD than girls. Eighty-nine fathers participated. Data was collected using parent observations, interviews, and questionnaires, as well as teacher questionnaires. The study spanned three years, starting when the boys were an average of four years-old. A second round of data was collected two and a half years later when the boys were an average age of seven.
Conduct problems are no small potatoes. Raudino et al. reported that 10% of all kids have conduct problems and half of all child mental health referrals are due to this issue. Several studies have looked at outcomes for kids with conduct problems and have found increased risk for issues such as adult antisocial personality disorder, social troubles, parenting difficulties, and intimate partner violence.
In a recent study in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, Chronis-Tuscano and colleagues looked at parent and child outcomes after mothers of children with ADHD attended a brief parent training program. The results revealed a critical piece of information. Mothers with higher ADHD symptoms saw less progress in their children following parent training and this finding appeared to be due to negative parenting holding steady. Behaviors such as making negative commands (e.g., “Cut that out!) and critical statements (e.g., “You’re an idiot.”), as well as negative touching (e.g., hitting), fell into the category of negative parenting.
It has not been that long that bullying has been taken seriously even though we have known for a long time that it can be destructive and sometimes very dangerous. There are now solid efforts being made to not only understand it but to change its course and to help victims and perpetrators alike.
Chung and colleagues set out to examine whether or not there was spillover between conflict with parents/family and conflict with peers. As one may guess, the researchers found that when teens had a conflict with a parent or other family member they were more likely to report having a conflict with a peer, and vice versa. They referred to this phenomenon as “spillover”.