Harsh parenting and child conduct and emotional problems: parent- and child-effects in the 2004 Pelotas Birth Cohort

Andreas Bauer, Graeme Fairchild, Sarah L. Halligan, Gemma Hammerton, Joseph Murray, Ina S. Santos, Tiago N. Munhoz, Aluísio J.D. Barros, Fernando C. Barros, Alicia Matijasevich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In high-income countries, links between harsh and abusive parenting and child conduct and emotional problems are well-documented. However, less is known about these relationships in low- and middle-income countries, where harsh parenting may be more widely accepted and higher rates of conduct or emotional problems may exist which could influence the strength of these associations. We sought to investigate these relationships in a large population-based, prospective longitudinal study from Brazil, which also allowed us to test for sex differences. Using data from the 2004 Pelotas Birth Cohort Study (N = 4231) at ages 6 and 11 years, we applied cross-lagged path analysis to examine the relationships between harsh parenting (Conflict Tactics Scale Parent–Child version), and child conduct and emotional problems (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire). We found reciprocal relationships between harsh parenting and child conduct problems, with harsh parenting at age 6 predicting child conduct problems at age 11, and vice versa, even after adjusting for initial levels of conduct problems and harsh parenting, respectively. For child emotional problems, only unidirectional effects were found, with harsh parenting at age 6 predicting child emotional problems at age 11, after adjusting for initial levels of emotional problems, but not vice versa. No significant sex differences were observed in these relationships. These observations based on a middle-income country birth cohort highlight the potential universality of detrimental effects of harsh parenting on child conduct and emotional problems and affirm the importance of addressing parent- and child-effects in preventive and treatment interventions, especially those targeting conduct problems.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Early online date18 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Child abuse
  • Conduct problems
  • Cross-lagged panel design
  • Emotional problems
  • Harsh parenting
  • Transactional model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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