Friday, March 21st, 2014
Parents who are “authoritarian,” very strict and unyielding when it comes to rules and boundaries, are more likely to have children who struggle with weight issues than parents who are “authoritative,” meaning that rules and boundaries are clear, but more open to discussion and explanation. Time.com has more on a new study, which was conducted by Canadian researchers:
Until now, there hadn’t been a close look at how overall parenting style—how permissively or authoritatively parents interact with their kids on everything from homework to chores and getting along with their siblings—might affect children’s weight. “We looked at the general way that parents can affect their child’s obesity even if they are not trying to control specific health-related behaviors,” says the study’s lead author, Lisa Kakinami, a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University.
She and her colleagues followed a group of more than 37,000 children in Canada aged zero to 11 years, and asked parents about their interactions with their youngsters. The team queried parents about things like how they responded when their child did something they shouldn’t, and how much they praised their kids when they did something positive.
Based on their responses, Kakinami and her colleagues focused on two of the four well-established groups of parenting styles: authoritative, in which parents set rules and boundaries but explain their reasoning and show understanding when the rules are broken; and authoritarian, in which parents set strict rules but aren’t as open to discussing and explaining them to their children. (The others, at the opposite end of the spectrum, are uninvolved, in which parents communicate very little with their children and are virtually absent as authority figures; and permissive, in which parents make few demands and expect little self-control from their kids.)
Kakinami found that children of authoritarian parents were 30% more likely to be obese at 2 to 5 years old, and 37% more likely to be obese if they were 6 to 11 years old compared with children of authoritative parents.
While the study wasn’t designed to tease apart what might be contributing to the higher body mass indices (BMI) in the authoritarian households, pediatricians have some theories. “When a parent says absolutely ‘no,’ that becomes forbidden fruit, and kids may then value that more,” says Dr. Stephen Daniels, chair of pediatrics at the University of Colorado, who was not involved in the study, about certain kid-favorite foods such as sweets, soda and fast food that are high in calories.
Kakinami says there were hints that other factors may be at work as well. Authoritarian parents were less likely than authoritative moms and dads to praise their children or give them positive feedback for good behavior, regardless of whether it was related to their health. “The main difference in authoritative vs. authoritarian styles is the warmth expressed between the parent and child,” she says. “Authoritative parents ranked higher on praise than authoritarian parents.” And when their children misbehaved, authoritarian parents were “most likely to respond emotionally and punish the child but not tell them what they had done wrong.”
Image: Strict parent, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Friday, March 21st, 2014
Genetic predispositions, not mere modeling, may be the biggest determining factor when it comes to how a person will parent their children, according to new research from Michigan State University. More from a release describing the study:
Add a Comment
A study by two Michigan State University psychologists refutes the popular theory that how adults parent their children is strictly a function of the way they were themselves parented when they were children.
While environmental factors do play a role in parenting, so do a person’s genes, said S. Alexandra Burt, associate professor of psychology and co-author of a study led by doctoral student Ashlea M. Klahr.
“The way we parent is not solely a function of the way we were parented as children,” Burt said. “There also appears to be genetic influences on parenting.”
Klahr and Burt conducted a statistical analysis of 56 scientific studies from around the world on the origins of parenting behavior, including some of their own. The comprehensive analysis, involving more than 20,000 families from Australia to Japan to the United States, found that genetic influences in the parents account for 23 percent to 40 percent of parental warmth, control and negativity towards their children.
“What’s still not clear, however, is whether genes directly influence parenting or do so indirectly, through parent personality for example,” Klahr said.
The study sheds light on another misconception: that parenting is solely a top-down process from parent to child. While parents certainly seem to shape child behavior, parenting also is influenced by the child’s behavior – in other words, parenting is both a cause and a consequence of child behavior.
“One of the most consistent and striking findings to emerge from this study was the important role that children’s characteristics play in shaping all aspects of parenting,” the authors write.
Image: Family, via Shutterstock
Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
Parents who are involved in active play with their children during their toddler and preschool years may have better academic performance to look forward to, according to new research by scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The findings come from a study of African American boys who were transitioning from preschool to kindergarten.
“The transition to kindergarten can be challenging for many children due to new expectations, social interactions, and physiological changes,” said Iheoma Iruka, the study’s lead author, in a statement. “Transitions may be even more arduous for African American boys, given the many challenges they are likely to face compared to their peers.”
Iruka found four patterns for African American boys after they transitioned—and her team also demonstrated the key role that parenting plays in these outcomes.
Just over half the boys (51%) showed increases in language, reading, and math scores in kindergarten, but a sizeable group (19%) consisted of low achievers in preschool who declined even further academically after transition. The smallest group (11%) included early achievers who declined in kindergarten both academically and behaviorally; by contrast, 20% of the boys in the study comprised a group of early achievers who remained on their high-performing academic and social paths after the transition.
According to Iruka, the results clearly suggest that some African American boys experience challenges to their academic achievement and social skills as they move into to kindergarten.
“In addition, the two groups of early achievers is especially revealing about the importance of effective parenting,” she said. “African American boys from homes where mothers frequently engaged in literacy activities and intentional teaching—and other activities like playing games and taking the child on errands—were likely to be in the high achieving groups.”
Iruka’s study also showed that parent-child interactions influence whether a high-achieving African American boy stays on course.
“It’s important to note that the early achievers who declined academically and socially were more likely to be from homes in which the parents were inattentive,” she said. “The group of boys with detached parents showed a significant decrease in their reading and math scores and an increase in aggression during the preschool-to-kindergarten transition.”
Want to know what career your child might have? Take our quiz to find out!
Image: African American boy, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Monday, January 6th, 2014
Parents who are “strict” in the sense that they set limits for their children are less likely to have teenagers who experiment with cigarette smoking, according to a new study published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology. More from Reuters:
Researchers surveyed middle schoolers from diverse backgrounds and found those whose parents had an “authoritative” and “structured” parenting style were also more likely to be discouraged from smoking by their parents and less likely to become smokers.
“Many past studies have examined broad parenting styles, however this study looked at how specific parenting strategies may help protect youth from cigarette smoking initiation,” said Cassandra Stanton, an assistant professor in the oncology department at Georgetown University, who led the study.
“We also note that unlike many studies in the area that are conducted in largely white middle class samples, this study was conducted in an urban multi-ethnic low-income school district,” Stanton told Reuters Health.
It’s important to identify ways of helping parents prevent kids from starting to smoke, Stanton’s team writes in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology, because the majority of lifetime smokers begin before the age of 18.
Although the number of teenage smokers has declined significantly, one in three young adults reports smoking at least once in the past 30 days, according to a 2012 report by the U.S. Surgeon General.
Image: No smoking sign, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment
Tuesday, December 17th, 2013
Grandparents who are asked to step in and play a major role in caring for their grandchildren are benefiting from a communication education program in Australia that aims to refresh their memories when it comes to fostering healthy, open relationships with children. More on the program, which is also showing positive changes trickling down to parents, from Reuters:
Researchers found families who had been through the program, designed to encourage better communication between generations and give grandparents a parenting “refresher” course, reported fewer behavior problems among children.
“The main reason we wanted to focus on grandparents is that there still aren’t that many parents getting involved with parenting programs,” James Kirby, the study’s lead author, told Reuters Health.
That means children aren’t benefiting from the techniques taught in those programs, Kirby said. He is a research fellow at the Parenting and Family Support Centre at the University of Queensland in Brisbane.
“Going through a channel such as grandparents is another way,” he said.
That’s because many older people provide some amount of care for their grandchildren.
The new program is an adaptation of the existing Triple P-Positive Parenting Program, which has existed for about 30 years. The version for grandparents lasts nine weeks and consists of seven group and two phone sessions.
The sessions focus on parenting, the relationship between grandparents and parents and unhelpful emotions – such as anxiety, stress and anger. The program takes about 15 hours to complete.
Image: Grandparents and child, via Shutterstock
Add a Comment