Big Kid

Study Shows Harsh Parenting May Make Kids Antisocial

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When it comes to parenting, we all have our own type of style, which has been much debated over the years. If you’re the type of parent who is more of a go with the flow, you get criticized by those who are more strict and vice versa. Well, according to a new study, one form of parenting can lead to a child being more antisocial, and really it kind of makes sense. We are around our parents the most when we are little and of course how they interact with us can influence a lot. And one study says that harsh parenting may lead to a child being antisocial.

According to an interview done by ResearchGate, researcher Rochelle Hentges did a study on harsh parenting, published in the journal Child Development and defined what harsh parenting means.

She describes harsh parenting as “acts of verbal or physical aggression, such as yelling, name-calling, shoving, or threatening the child.” And it’s that type of parenting that  another study was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, looking at Callous-unemotional (CU) traits in children. Romper describes CU traits asthose traits include limited empathy and lack of guilt, as outlined by the Association for Psychological Science. One of the biggest questions in examining callous-unemotional traits is determining whether these traits are due solely to genetic makeup or the environment a child finds themselves in.”

Researchers at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and the University of Pennsylvania looked at 227 identical twin pairs (454 kids in total). The kids ranged in age between 6 and 11 years old and their parents were asked to complete a 50-item questionnaire. The questionnaire included questions about the environment at home, specifically to determine the harshness and warmth levels of the parents. The researchers then analyzed the small differences in parenting that each twin experienced to help determine if the differences in parenting predicted antisocial behaviors.

Rebecca Waller, an assistant professor for Penn’s Department of Psychology, said:

“Some of the early work on callous-unemotional traits focused on their biological bases, like genetics and the brain, making the argument that these traits develop regardless of what is happening in a child’s environment, that parenting doesn’t matter. We felt there must be something we could change in the environment that might prevent a susceptible child from going down the pathway to more severe antisocial behavior.”

The results on the impact of harsh parenting were surprisingly interesting, according to the study’s abstract.

The differences in parental harshness in how parents interact and discipline their child were related to differences in aggression and CU traits. “The study convincingly shows that parenting — and not just genes — contributes to the development of risky callous-unemotional traits,” says University of Michigan psychologist Luke Hyde, an associate professor.”Because identical twins have the same DNA, we can be more sure that the differences in parenting the twins received affects the development of these traits.”

According to the abstract of the brief, the researchers hope to use these findings as a stepping stone to help develop interventions for parents and other professionals “trying to prevent a child from developing such traits or to improve troubling behaviors that have already begun.”