The Effect of Parental Behaviour on the Academic and Social Skills of Children

Kavita Panyam

Kavita Panyam is a Counselling Psychologist by profession and a freelance writer by passion. She has won competitions in various magazines for slogan writing, reviews, and several blogging competitions. Her work has been published in reputed magazines across India and abroad. She writes for several well-known ezines and for print magazines. She also features as a guest contributor for various websites.
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Effective has never been more important to a family’s success than today. Proper shapes the coming generations and the way the next generation will behave, affecting the world around them. Children’s physical and emotional issues as well as their social and cognitive development, greatly depend on their family dynamics. Here’s an insight into the issue by Hyderabad-based Kavita, a practicing psychologist, in the regular column, exclusively for Different Truths.

Effective parenting includes developing and clarifying clear expectations, staying calm in the midst of turmoil when your child gets upset, consistently follow through with and negative consequences, being a role model, role playing corrective behaviour and lastly praising your child for his/her behaviour.

Depending on the background, or what is deemed as right and wrong, parents, within reason, should plan and communicate their expectation to each other. Second, once both parents have set appropriate expectations and rules for their child, the next step is to communicate those expectations clearly to their child in word and deed. For example, if a child draws on the wall, keeping the feedback positive and specific on what they should have done, will have a clearer understanding of how he or she should perform in future in similar situations. By acting out the expectations, the parents have clearly stated to the child, the child will associate the “perfect model,” from the parents.

Parenting Styles and Their Effects on Children

As parents guide their young children from complete infantile dependence into the beginning stages of autonomy, their styles of caregiving can have both immediate and lasting effects on children’s social functioning in areas from moral development to peer play to academic achievement.

Contemporary researchers typically classify parenting styles into four groups:

  1. Authoritarian Parenting – Characterised by high levels of control and low levels of responsiveness.
  2. Indulgent Permissive Parenting – Characterised by low levels of control and high levels of responsiveness.
  3. Authoritative Parenting – Characterised by high levels of both control and responsiveness.
  4. Neglectful Parenting – Characterised by the lack of both control and responsiveness.

Research has generally linked authoritative parenting, where parents demanding behaviour and responsiveness, with higher social competencies in children. Thus, children of authoritative parents possess greater competence in early peer  and have more emotional well- being of young adults. Although authoritarian and permissive parenting styles appear to represent opposite ends of the parenting spectrum, neither style has been linked to positive outcomes, presumably because both minimise opportunities for children to learn to cope with stress. Too much control and demanding behaviour may limit children’s opportunities to make decisions for them or to make their needs known to their parents, while children in permissive/indulgent households may lack the direction and guidance necessary to develop appropriate morals and goals. Research has also uncovered significant associations between parenting styles across generations; bad parenting appears to be “passed on” as much as good parenting.

Effects of Parental Marital Conflicts on Children

A useful analogy is to think about emotional security as a bridge between the child and the world,” explained lead researcher Mark Cummings, Ph.D., professor and Notre Dame Chair in the psychology of the Psychology Department of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. “When the marital relationship is functioning well, it serves as a secure base, a structurally sound bridge to support the child’s exploration and relationships with others.” “When destructive marital conflict erodes the bridge, children may lack confidence and become hesitant to move forward, or may move forward in an unregulated way, unable to find appropriate footing within themselves or in interaction with others.” The researchers based their report on two separate long-term studies of marital conflict and children.

Parents and who don’t provide for their child’s emotional, physical and academic needs are considered neglectful, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This neglect affects the child in several unhealthful ways, including his behavior in the classroom. Failure in the classroom can seriously impair his ability to grow intellectually and socially. It may result in chronic absenteeism and lack of concentration in the classroom. Parents, who neglect children, don’t feed them healthy meals, bathe them regularly or ensure they receive a proper amount of sleep. This can result in skin infections, frequent illnesses, malnourishment and impaired brain development. The child may fall asleep in class, be too tired to focus on the lesson and the like. The child might suffer from anemia or other untreated illnesses that result in him missing school. His brain might not be developed enough to grasp the subject, being intellectually slower than the other children in his class. He’s likely to feel , embarrassment and lower self-esteem. Poor language skills often cause the child to avoid class participation and socialising because of fear of being ridiculed.

Such children have trouble trusting others, even teachers who want to help them. This makes them less likely to form social bonds with peers. Emotionally and socially stunted kids often do not feel empathy for others. They also might feel remorse when inflicting pain on others. The isolation he feels when his peers shun might escalate into even more behavioural in class.

Neglected children are more likely to have problems behaving appropriately in the classroom throughout their school career, thus making them less likely to graduate or even attend college. They are also more likely to engage in delinquent behavior. They often repeat neglecting their own kids because they don’t know any other way to parent. They rarely socialise with children outside the classroom, so they are not likely to recognise their parent’s behavior as abnormal.

Parental expectations can have a strong effect on the child’s motivation and self-expectations. While healthy and realistic expectations can encourage success, unrealistically high expectations can set children up for failure. Such unrealistic expectations can also lead to anxiety and discouragement when a child cannot live up to his parents’ goals. Likewise, low expectations can make it difficult for kids to achieve their full potential.  Thus, establishing healthy academic expectations and communicating the expectations to kids can be an important key to fostering success in school.

Getting to the bottom of the parent-child relationship problems can be difficult because there can be different underlying issues. The possible outcomes may also vary depending upon individual families, religion, culture, attitudes, ethnicity and resources available. It is important for new parents to educate themselves with the aid of family support, books, caretakers and the like in adopting appropriate parenting technique and strategies to ensure that children receive guidance that will best allow them to succeed in later life.

©Kavita Panyam

Photos from the internet.

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