• February 2011
  • Vol. 12, No. 1

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Predictors of Harsh Parenting Practices With Young Children

Research shows that harsh parenting behaviors negatively impact the emotional development of children and may place them at risk for child abuse. A recent article published in Child Abuse & Neglect looked at maternal harsh parenting practices from birth to age 3 years in relation to contextual and interpersonal risk factors. 

A sample of 488 at-risk mothers who did not have an open case with child protective services was assessed at 1, 2, and 3 years after baseline (birth of child). Researchers analyzed predictor variables that included maternal variables as well as partner aggression.

Key findings from the study indicate:

  • Maternal harsh parenting increased significantly between ages 1 and 2 years and remained high at age 3. 
  • Maternal alcohol use and maternal history of abuse tended to be related to maternal harsh parenting. 
  • Partner aggression was significantly and positively associated with maternal harsh parenting across time.
  • Maternal age and household income showed limited associations with maternal harsh parenting.

Researchers suggest that these findings can be used as a first step in creating developmentally sensitive early intervention programs addressing mother's alcohol use and past history of abuse.  

"Trajectories of Maternal Harsh Parenting in the First 3 Years of Life," by Hyoun Kim, Katherine Pears, Philip Fisher, Cynthia Connelly, and John Landsverk, appears in Child Abuse & Neglect, Vol. 34(12), and is available for purchase online:

http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2010.06.002

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