Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Maternal differential treatment of siblings and children's behavioral problems: A longitudinal study

  • Shirley McGuire (a1), Judy Dunn (a2) and Robert Plomin (a2)

Abstract

Researchers have examined links between maternal differential treatment of siblings and children's adjustment; however, little is known about the longitudinal nature of these associations. The goal of this study was to examine the relationship between maternal differential treatment of the siblings, direct parenting of older siblings, and older siblings' behavior problems across middle childhood. Eighty-two families were interviewed twice in their homes when the siblings averaged 4.7 and 7.7 years of age and, again when they averaged 7.9 and 10.5 years of age. Mothers completed questionnaires about parenting and older siblings' adjustment during the summer after the older siblings' 7th and 11th birthdays. Teachers completed questionnaires about the older siblings' adjustment and returned them through the mail. There was significant stability in the mothers' reports of differential treatment and significant associations between mothers' reports of maternal differential discipline and differential attention and mothers' and teachers' reports of older siblings' externalizing problems across time. Direct parenting measures were not correlated with differential treatment or older siblings' behavior problems across time.

Copyright

Corresponding author

S. McGuire, Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, CA 92093–0109.

References

Hide All
Achenbach, T. M. (1991a). Manual for the Child Behavior Checklist 14–18 and 1991 Profile. Burlington: University of Vermont, Department of Psychiatry.
Achenbach, T. M. (1991b). Manual for the Teacher's Report Form and 1991 Profile. Burlington: University of Vermont, Department of Psychiatry.
Achenbach, T. M., & Edelbrock, C. (1981). Behavioral problems and competencies reported by parents of normal and disturbed children aged four to sixteen. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 46 (1, Serial No. 188).
Achenbach, T. M., Howell, C. T., Quay, H. C., & Conners, C. K. (1991). National survey of problems and competencies among four- to six-year olds. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 56 (3, Serial No. 225).
Achenbach, T. M., McConaughy, S. H., & Howell, C. T. (1987). Child/adolescent behavioral and emotional problems: Implications of cross-informant correlations for situational specificity. Psychological Bulletin, 101, 213232.
Anderson, K. E., Lytton, H., & Romney, D. M. (1986). Mothers' interactions with normal and conduct-disordered boys: Who affects whom. Developmental Psychology, 22, 604609.
Angold, A., Weissman, M. M., John, K., Merikangas, K. R., Prusoff, B. A., Wickramaratne, P., Gammon, G. D., & Warner, V. (1987). Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 28, 901915.
Baumrind, D. (1993). The average expectable environment is not good enough: A response to Scarr. Child Development, 64, 12991317.
Bell, R. Q. (1968). A reinterpretation of the direction of effects in studies of socialization. Psychological Review, 75, 8195.
Boer, F. (1990). Sibling relationships in middle childhood. Leiden, Netherlands: DSWO Press, University of Leiden.
Brody, G. H., Stoneman, Z., & McCoy, J. K. (1992). Associations of maternal and paternal direct and differential behavior with sibling relationships: Contemporaneous and longitudinal analyses. Child Development, 63, 8292.
Brodzinsky, D. M. (1987). Adjustment to adoption: A psychosocial perspective. Clinical Psychology Review, 7, 2547.
Brodzinsky, D. M., Radice, C., Huffman, L., & Merkler, R. (1987). Prevalence of clinically significant symptomatology in a nonclinical sample of adopted and nonadopted children. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 16, 350356.
Bryant, B., & Crockenberg, S. (1980). Correlates and discussion of prosocial behavior: A study of female siblings with their mothers. Child Development, 51, 529544.
Campbell, S. B. (1989). Developmental perspectives. In Ollendick, T. H. & Hersen, M. (Eds.), Handbook of child psychopathology (2nd Ed., pp. 528). New York: Plenum Press.
Campbell, S. B. (1991). Longitudinal studies of active and aggressive preschoolers: Individual differences in early behavior and in outcome. In Cicchetti, D. & Toth, S. L. (Eds.), Internalizing and externalizing expressions of dysfunction: Rochester symposium on developmental psychopathology (Vol. 2, pp. 5790). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Campbell, S. B., Pierce, E. W., March, C. L., & Ewing, L. J. (1991). Noncompliant behavior, overactivity, and family stress as predictors of negative maternal control with preschool children. Development and Psychopathology, 3, 175190.
Cicchetti, D., & Toth, S. L. (1991). A developmental perspective on internalizing and externalizing disorders. In Cicchetti, D. & Toth, S. L. (Eds.), Internalizing and externalizing expressions of dysfunction: Rochester symposium on developmental psychopathology (Vol. 2, pp. 120). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Conger, K. J., & Conger, R. D. (1994). Differential parenting and change in sibling differences in delinquency. Journal of Family Psychology, 8, 287302.
DeFries, J. C., Plomin, R., & Fulker, D. W. (1994). Nature & nurture during middle childhood. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
Dibble, E., & Cohen, D. (1974). Companion instruments for measuring children's competence and parental style. Archives of General Psychiatry, 30, 805815.
Dunn, J. (1993). Young children's relationships: Beyond attachment. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Dunn, J., & Plomin, R. (1990). Separate lives: Why siblings are so different. New York: Basic Books.
Dunn, J., Slomkowski, C., Beardsall, L., & Rende, R. (1994). Adjustment in middle childhood and early adolescence: Links with earlier and contemporary sibling relationships. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 35, 491504.
Dunn, J., Stocker, C., & Plomin, R. (1990). Nonshared experiences within the family: Correlates of behavior problems in middle childhood. Development and Psychopathology, 2, 113126.
Edelbrock, C., Costello, A. J., Dulcan, M., Kalas, R., & Conover, N. C. (1985). Age differences in the reliability of the psychiatric interview of the child. Child Development, 56, 265275.
Eme, R. E. (1979). Sex differences in childhood psychopathology: A review. Psychological Bulletin, 86, 574596.
Grecas, V., & Seff, M. (1990). Families and adolescents: A review of the 1980's. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 52, 941958.
Greenberg, M. T., Kusche, C. A., Speltz, M. (1991). Emotional regulation, self-control, and psychopathology: The role of relationships in early childhood. In Cicchetti, D., & Toth, S. L. (Eds.), Internalizing and externalizing expressions of dysfunction: Rochester symposium on developmental psychopathology (Vol. 2, pp. 2156). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Greenberg, M. T., & Speltz, M. (1988). Attachment and the ontogeny of conduct problems. In Belsky, J. & Nezworski, T. (Eds.), Clinical applications of attachment (pp. 177218). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Hetherington, E. M. (1988). Parents, children, and siblings: Six years after divorce. In Hinde, R. A. & Stevenson-Hinde, J. (Eds.), Relationships within families: Mutual influences (pp. 311331). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Huesmann, L. R., Lefkowitz, M. M., Eron, L. D., & Walder, L. D. (1984). Stability of aggression over time and generations. Developmental Psychology, 20, 11201134.
Jöreskog, K. G., & Sörbom, D. (1993). Lisrel 8 user's reference guide. Chicago, IL: Scientific Software International, Inc.
Kendrick, D. T., & Stingfield, D. O. (1980). Personality traits and the eye of the beholder: Crossing some traditional philosophical boundaries in the search for consistency in all of the people. Psychological Review, 87, 88104.
Kirk, H. D., Jonassohn, K., & Fish, A. D. (1966). Are adopted children especially vulnerable to stress? Archives of General Psychiatry, 14, 291298.
Kuczynski, L., Kochanska, G., Radke-Yarrow, M., & Girnius-Brown, O. (1987). A developmental interpretation of young children's noncompliance. Developmental Psychology, 23, 799806.
Lasko, J. K. (1954). Parent behavior toward first and second-born children. Genetic Psychology Monographs, 49, 97137.
Lewis, M., Feiring, C., McGuffog, C., & Jaskir, J. (1984). Predicting psychopathology in six year olds from early social relations. Child Development, 55, 123136.
Lindholm, B. W., & Touliatos, J. (1980). Psychological adjustment of adopted and nonadopted children. Psychological Reports, 46, 307310.
Loeber, R. (1982). The stability of antisocial and delinquent child behavior: A review. Child Development, 53, 14311446.
Loehlin, J. C. (1987). Latent variable models: An introduction to factor, path, and structural analysis. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Lytton, H. (1990). Child and parent effects in boys' conduct disorder: A reinterpretation. Developmental Psychology, 26, 683697.
Maccoby, E. E. (1984a). Middle childhood in the context of the family. In Collins, W. A. (Eds.), Development during middle childhood: The years six to twelve (pp. 184239). Washington, DC: National Academy of Science Press.
Maccoby, E. E. (1984b). Socialization and developmental change. Child Development, 55, 317328.
Mash, E. J., & Johnson, C. (1983). Parental perceptions of child behavior problems, parenting self-esteem, and mothers' reported stress in younger and older hyperactive and normal children. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 51, 8699.
McHale, S. M., & Gamble, W. C. (1989). Sibling relationships of children with disabled and nondisabled brothers and sisters. Developmental Psychology, 25, 421429.
McHale, S. M., & Pawletko, T. M. (1992). Differential treatment in two family contexts. Child Development, 63, 6881.
McHale, S. M., Crouter, A. C., McGuire, S., & Updegraff, K. A. (1995). Congruence between mothers' and fathers' differential treatment of siblings: Links with family relations and children's well-being. Child Development, 66, 116128.
McGuire, S., & Dunn, J. (1994). Nonshared environment in middle childhood. In DeFries, J. C., Plomin, R., & Fulker, D. W. (Eds.), Nature & nurture during middle childhood (pp. 201213). Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
Olweus, D. (1980). Familial and temperament determinants of aggressive behavior in adolescent boys: A causal analysis. Development Psychology, 16, 644660.
Patterson, G. R. (1980). Mothers: The unacknowledged victims. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 45 (5, Serial No. 186).
Plomin, R., & Daniels, D. (1987). Why are children in the same family so different from each other? The Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 10, 116.
Plomin, R., DeFries, J. C., & Fulker, D. W. (1988). Nature and nurture during infancy and early childhood. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Rhea, S. A., & Corley, R. P. (1994). Applied issues. In DeFries, J. C., Plomin, R., & Fulker, D. W. (Eds.), Nature & nurture during middle childhood (pp. 295309). Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
Robins, L. M. (1991). Conduct disorder. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 32, 193212.
Scarr, S., & Grajek, S. (1982). Similarities and differences among siblings. In Lamb, M. E. & Sutton-Smith, B. (Eds.), Sibling relationships: Their nature and significance across the lifespan (pp. 357382). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Speltz, M. L. (1990). Contributions of attachment theory to the treatment of conduct problems. In Greenberg, M. T., Cicchetti, D., & Cummings, M. (Eds.), Attachment in the preschool years: Theory, research, and intervention (pp. 399426). Chicago, II: University of Chicago Press.
Stipek, D. & MacIver, D. (1989). Developmental change in children's assessment of intellectual competence. Child Development, 60, 521538.
Stocker, C. (1993). Siblings' adjustment in middle childhood: Links with mother-child relationships. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 14, 485499.
Stocker, C., Dunn, J., & Plomin, R. (1989). Sibling relationships: Links with child temperament, maternal behavior, and family structure. Child Development, 60, 715727.
Touliatos, J., & Lindholm, B. W. (1981). Congruence of parents' and teachers' ratings of children's behavior problems. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 9, 347354.

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed