Child Externalising and Internalising Behaviour in the First Year of School: The Role of Parenting in a Low SES Population
Successful transition and adjustment to school life is critical for a child's future success. To ease this transition a child needs to arrive equipped with the necessary skills for school. The extent of a child’s behavioural problems is one indicator of his or her level of adjustment and school readiness. A factor which is consistently associated with such behaviours is parenting practices. This study examined the role of maternal parenting behaviours on externalising and internalising behaviours displayed by children in their first year of schooling. As children living in low socioeconomic status (SES) families are at risk of both adverse parenting behaviours and childhood behavioural difficulties, the study focuses on a low SES cohort. Mothers (n = 197) reported parenting behaviours using the Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire (PSDQ; Robinson, Mandelco, Olsen, & Hart, 2001). Teachers (n = 21) rated children on how frequently they engaged in fifteen behaviours. These behaviours were subjected to an exploratory factor analysis, eliciting two externalising behaviour factors (aggressive and defiant; hyperactive and inattentive) and one internalising behaviour factor. Bivariate analyses revealed that authoritarian parenting is associated with aggressive and defiant behaviours and that permissive parenting and maternal education is associated with hyperactive and inattentive behaviours. Only the latter result remains significant in the multivariate analysis. Finally, no relationships were found between parenting practices and child internalising behaviours. Parenting behaviours explained a small proportion of the variance in child externalising behaviours, highlighting the need to educate parents in effective parenting practices.
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