Self-Regulation, Learning Problems, and Maternal Authoritarian Parenting in Chinese Children: A Developmental Cascades Model

Abstract

The ability to intentionally control behavior to achieve specific goals helps children concentrate in school and behave appropriately in social situations. In Chinese culture, where self-regulation is highly valued by parents and teachers, children’s difficulties self-regulating may contribute to increased learning problems and subsequent authoritarian parenting. In this study we explored the longitudinal linkages among Chinese children’s self-regulation, learning problems, and authoritarian parenting using a developmental cascades model. Participants were N= 617 primary school students in Shanghai, P.R. China followed over three years from Grade 3–4 to Grade 5–6. Measures of children’s self-regulation, learning problems, and maternal authoritarian parenting were obtained each year from a combination of child self-reports and maternal and teacher ratings. Among the results: (1) compared with the unidirectional and bidirectional models, the developmental cascades model was deemed the best fit for the data; (2) earlier self-regulation negatively predicted later authoritarian parenting via a pathway through academic performance; (3) academic performance directly and indirectly contributed to greater self-regulation. Results are discussed in terms of the implications of self-regulation for Chinese children’s academic success and authoritarian parenting practices.

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Author Contributions

J.L.: designed and executed the study, performed data analyses, and wrote the paper. B.X.: assisted with data analyses and writing the paper. W.E.H.: assisted with writing the paper and editing the final manuscript. R.J.C: collaborated in study design and editing of the final manuscript. P.Y.: assisted with data analyses. C.C.: contributed measures and assisted with translation of measures.

Funding

This research was funded by research grants from the Ministry of Education of Humanities and Social Science Project (18YJA190009) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2017ECNU-HLYT013, 2018ECNU-QKT015).

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Correspondence to Junsheng Liu.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Shanghai Normal University provided IRB approval for the current study in collaboration with Carleton University and the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

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Liu, J., Xiao, B., Hipson, W.E. et al. Self-Regulation, Learning Problems, and Maternal Authoritarian Parenting in Chinese Children: A Developmental Cascades Model. J Child Fam Stud 27, 4060–4070 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-018-1218-x

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Keywords

  • Self-regulation
  • Learning problems
  • Academic achievement
  • Authoritarian parenting
  • Cascade models