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Parental discipline behaviours and beliefs about their child: associations with child internalizing and mediation relationships

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 17:49 authored by B J Laskey, Samantha Cartwright-HattonSamantha Cartwright-Hatton
Introduction Internalizing disorders of childhood are a common and disabling problem, with sufferers at increased risk of subsequent psychiatric morbidity. Several studies have found associations between parenting styles and children's internalizing, although few have considered the role of parental discipline. Parental discipline style may exert an effect on children's internalizing symptoms. Anxiety and depression are reliably found to run in families and parental anxiety has been shown to effect parenting behaviour. This study set out to examine the links between parental anxiety, parental discipline style and child internalizing symptoms. Method Eighty-eight parents of children aged 4–10 years were recruited through primary schools. All parents completed questionnaires including measures relating to: adult anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory – Trait version, Penn State Worry Questionnaire), parental depression (Beck Depression Inventory – Fastscreen), parental discipline (The Parenting Scale), parenting-related attributions (Parenting Attitudes, Beliefs and Cognitions Scale) and child psychological morbidity (Child Behaviour Checklist 4–18 version). Results Significant correlations were found between both parental anxiety and child internalizing symptoms with ineffective discipline and negative beliefs about parenting. Particularly strong correlations were found between parental anxiety and child internalizing symptoms with harsh discipline. Parents of anxious/withdrawn children were more likely to hold negative beliefs about their child. The link between parental anxiety and child internalizing symptoms was mediated by harsh discipline. The link between parental anxiety and harsh discipline was mediated by parental beliefs about the child. Conclusion Discipline style may be an important factor in the relationship between parent anxiety and child internalizing symptoms.


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  • Published


Child: Care, Health and Development









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  • Psychology Publications


SCH was sole supervisor of this D.Clin.Psy project

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  • Yes

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