Parenting Styles in Developmental Psychology

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Parenting Styles in Developmental Psychology


            Developmental psychology is a discipline in psychology that involves the study of how individuals grow from infancy to adulthood and the change processes involved in the course of a person’s lifetime. Developmental psychology is premised on the need to describe, explain, and optimize individuals’ development by analyzing patterns of growth and change. Consequently, developmental psychology is a subjective discipline of psychology that is designed to develop theories and insights used to improve processes and solve challenges encountered in growth and development. Parenting styles refer to child-rearing techniques or approaches that are characterized by unique patterns of communication and behavior. The parenting type adopted by parents plays a significant role in early childhood development and growth in adolescence and adulthood. Parenting styles are aimed at ensuring a child’s health, preparing for a life as productive and responsible adults, and promoting their safety. The effectiveness of parenting styles is influenced significantly by biological and environmental factors that play a significant role in shaping a child’s behavioral outcomes.

            Laurence Steinberg and Nancy Darling sought to create and present a model based on a child’s cultural background, the influence of parenting style on development, and the operationalization of parenting styles, concerning variable impacts of parenting styles (169). Steinberg and Darling posited that parenting styles are conceptualized best as a context that regulates the effect of particular parenting practices on children. The authors argue that there is a need to distinguish between parenting as a practice and as a style to facilitate the proper contextualization of how it affects socialization of children into ideal members of a particular society. Steinberg and Darling state that the effectiveness of the most prevalent parenting styles of authoritarian, permissive, and uninvolved/indulgent/neglectful parenting is determined by the nature of a family’s social environment (162). The authoritarian parenting style is regarded as the most effective in socializing children into a dominant culture in a particular society. The effectiveness of the authoritarian parenting style is attributed to its ability to confer emotional support, bidirectional and clear communication, and the setting of high standards of achievement in addition to granting an appropriate sense of autonomy to children.

            Authoritarian parenting is attributed to helping children develop instrumental competencies that allow them to balance individual and societal responsibilities and needs. These competencies are characterized by children exhibiting responsible independence, psychological maturity, cooperation with peers and adults, and academic proficiency, performance, and success (Steinberg and Darling 166). The use of authoritarian parenting styles in various socio-cultural contexts results in variances, concerning behavioral outcomes. The use of authoritarian parenting style on European American children illustrated a strong correlation between parenting style and academic performance. On the other hand, the use of authoritarian parenting style on African and Asian American children and adolescents demonstrated ineffectiveness in influencing improved academic performance. The witnessed variances across socio-cultural milieus were indicative of the presence of a significant underlying element that determines the behavioral, social, and cognitive development of children exposed to authoritative parenting (Steinberg and Darling 162). For this reason, Steinberg and Darling sought to establish the relationship between ethnic differences and parenting styles. Additionally, the authors argue that parental characteristics play a significant role in altering a child’s receptiveness to socialization through various parenting styles. The research study concluded that specific parenting styles and caregiving features, with respect to socializing children into ideal members of society, were both integral in achieving desired behavioral goals in a child’s growth and development.

            Kawabata et al. sought to establish the relationship between different parenting styles and relational aggression in children; a premise that can be associated with Steinberg and Darling’s research study into the determinants of appropriate socialization techniques and developmental psychology. Smokowski et al. research was focused on relational aggression that is distinguished from physical or verbal hostility qualitatively and conceptually by the fact that the former entails behaviors that damage and cause harm to relationships between people (340). Accordingly, increased interest in relational aggression emanates from the heightened incidences of cyberbullying and digital text messaging. The authors posit that the witnessed antisocial behavior in cyberspace is an excellent example of how relational aggression is manifested in children and adolescents. Accordingly, research evidence suggests that both the perpetrators and victims of relational aggression suffer the negative consequences of such manifestations of hostility in children (Smokowski et al.337). The negative outcomes of relational aggression are achieved through behaviors such as the intentional and unwarranted withdrawal of friendship, exclusion from peer groups, and spreading rumors to elicit adverse emotional reactions. The adverse outcomes of relational hostility include internalizing and externalizing problems and rejection and isolation by peers (Smokowski et al. 338). Notably, associations and relationships between individuals and groups are used as tools and weapons by people through social aggression. Persons manifesting relational aggression seek to manipulate people’s relationships to harm and hurt them emotionally.

            The outcomes of various parenting styles on children’s behavior are the core focus of Smokowski et al. and Steinberg and Darling’s research studies. The choice or nature of a particular parenting style adopted by parents plays a significant role in determining a child’s ability to fit into society. Smokowski et al. explore various theoretical perspectives regarding the associations between parenting styles and relational aggression in children. Social aggression in children can be explained using social learning theory whose premise is based on the assertion that children learn and mimic behaviors exhibited by their parents. Attachment theory posits that children exposed to responsive and sensitive positive reinforcement from their caregivers early in life develop internal working models based on these formative life experiences (Smokowski et al. 345). Exposing children to rejection and insensitivity early in life develop uncertainties and insecurities in their relationships, exhibited antisocial behavior more often. Emotional regulation and social information processing theories were also explored to demonstrate how the inadequate development of social skills contributes to the development of relational aggression in children (Smokowski et al. 341). Importantly, Smokowski et al. demonstrated that parenting style played a significant role in propagating relational aggression similar to Steinberg and Darling’s observations in their research (334). The contextualization of parenting styles and the socialization of children into ideal members of society is determined largely by the effectiveness of various parenting styles used to nurture and rear children.

Works Cited

Smokowski, Paul R., et al. “The Effects of Positive and Negative Parenting Practices on Adolescent Mental Health Outcomes in a Multicultural Sample of Rural Youth.” Child Psychiatry & Human Development, vol. 46, no. 3, 2015, pp. 333-45.

Steinberg, Laurence, and Nancy Darling. “Parenting Style as Context: An Integrative Model.” Interpersonal Development. Routledge, 2017, pp. 161-70.

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