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Relational Aggression in Mothers and Children: Links with Psychological Control and Child Adjustment

Abstract

This study assesses associations between mothers’ use of relational aggression with their peers and psychological control with their children, and child adjustment in a sample of fifty U.S. mothers of elementary and middle school children. Mothers completed surveys assessing their relational aggression and psychological control. Teachers completed surveys assessing children’s externalizing behavior, internalizing symptoms, and relational aggression. Results suggest that mothers who are relationally aggressive with their peers are more likely to be psychologically controlling with their children. Results also showed that relational aggression predicted adjustment problems in youth. Relational aggression was associated with externalizing problems among boys and girls, and with internalizing problems among boys. Few gender differences in mean levels of maternal or child behaviors emerged.

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Correspondence to Sara E. Goldstein or Amanda Sheffield Morris.

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Reed, T.J., Goldstein, S.E., Morris, A.S. et al. Relational Aggression in Mothers and Children: Links with Psychological Control and Child Adjustment. Sex Roles 59, 39–48 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-008-9423-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-008-9423-5

Keywords

  • Relational aggression
  • Psychological control
  • Parenting
  • Child adjustment