Inconsistent parenting: Is there evidence for a link with children's conduct problems?
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Traditional interview studies of inconsistent parental discipline show a strong link with young children's conduct problems. Observational studies of inconsistency show weaker links with problem behavior and suffer from methodological problems. This study proposed a new observational definition of parental inconsistency, which analyzed whether mothers follow through their demands during sequences of mother-child conflict. A home observational study showed that mothers of conduct-problem preschoolers acted inconsistently during a greater proportion of conflict episodes than did their normal counterparts. There was a strong correlation between inconsistency and amount of family conflict. Inconsistency varied as a function of the context from which conflict arose. Results are discussed in terms of both coercion (Patterson, 1979) and predictability theories of problem behavior (Wahler & Dumas, 1986).
KeywordsObservational Study Conduct Problem Strong Link Weak Link Methodological Problem
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