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Parents Anticipating Misbehaviour: An Observational Study of Strategies Parents Use to Prevent Conflict with Behaviour Problem Children

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 November 1999

Frances E. M. Gardner
Affiliation:
University of Oxford, U.K.
Edmund J. S. Sonuga-Barke
Affiliation:
University of Southampton, U.K.
Kapil Sayal
Affiliation:
Bethlem and Maudsley Hospitals, London, U.K.
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Abstract

Research on the role of parenting styles in the development of disruptive behaviour problems has focused primarily on how parents handle conflict once it has occurred. This home observational study examined strategies used by 52 mothers to prevent conflict with 3-year-olds. It was predicted that mothers of children with behaviour problems would use fewer “positive” strategies to resolve conflict, and would use reactive rather than pre-emptive strategies. Results showed frequency of positive strategies did not differ between the groups. Mothers of children with behaviour problems were less likely to use pre-emptive, and more likely to use reactive, strategies. Further analysis showed child conduct problems, rather than other characteristics, best discriminated pre-emptive from reactive strategy users. Follow-up of a subsample found that reactive strategies at age 3 predicted age 5 behaviour problems, even after controlling for age 3 behaviour problems.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 1999 Association for Child Psychology and Psychiatry

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