Parent Influence On Child Behavior

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Parent Influence on Child Behavior

Parent Influence on Child Behavior

The behavior of children and adolescents reflects the social conditions in which they live. Aggressive and disruptive children commonly live in aggressive and violent circumstances; similarly, supportive and empathic parental Emotional Influences figure prominently in the parental emotional influences histories of responsible children and adolescents. These concordances, however, are relatively modest. Many individuals who grow up in violent circumstances are not aggressive or antisocial, and numerous individuals growing up under empathic circumstances are egoistic and antisocial. Parental emotional influences pathways from childhood to adulthood are thus both "straight and devious" (Robins & Ratter 1990).

We first discuss parental emotional influences issues in describing personality and temperament in children and adolescents. Descriptive and dimensional studies are considered, emphasizing the close connection between work with children and adolescents, on the one hand, and work with adults, on the other. Parental emotional influences continuities are considered next. Variable-centered approaches (e.g. aggression and social withdrawal) and person-centered approaches (e.g. individualities in the organization of behavior) are distinguished. Finally, parental emotional influences pathways are examined within three central orientations: antisocial behavior, social inhibition and withdrawal, and social responsibility. Parental emotional influences sequences are emphasized, and because relationships are the nexuses through which these sequences move, we organize our remarks concerning antisocial behavior, social inhibition, and social responsibility using a relationships scheme. Gene-environment transactions are mentioned only briefly because other recent reviews have dealt with them (cuff Pluming & Render 1991).

Personality has many different meanings. Attributes encompassed by the construct range from emotional reactivity to attitudes, expectations, values, and instrumental behaviors. Because consensus does not exist concerning the specific attributes that constitute personality, few measuring instruments cover every dimension assumed relevant.

Personality is commonly studied at many different levels ranging from the concrete (e.g. behavioral responses) to the abstract (e.g. central orientations or behavioral styles that typify individuals across different situations). Dig man (1990) describes this enterprise in terms of a four-tiered hierarchy that includes (a) specific acts or interactions that occur in specific situations, (b) typical or modal responses occurring in prototypical situations (e.g. generalized habits or dispositions), (c) trait facets or characteristics, and (d) super ordinate constructs or traits (e.g. extraversion). Hierarchical representations of this kind usually assume that lower-order characteristics are uniquely related to higher-order constructs. Yet, empirical studies based in natural language show that only about 50% of personality -related descriptors (e.g. adjectives) are related to single traits; almost as many are related to two factors, and a small number to more than two. Circumflexes, created by pitting constructs or traits against one another (e.g. agreeableness vs. extraversion), are thus attractive alternative models (Hosted et al 1992). Using several hundred descriptive adjectives, these authors were able to propose a taxonomy that they thought "comparable in function to the periodic table of chemical elements" (p.146).

As children grow older and interact with wider, more complex physical and social environments, the adults who care for them must develop increasingly creative strategies to protect them and teach ...
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