08:25am Sunday 20 October 2019

Best parenting styles to help children manage emotions


Angela Macfarlane

Parents and primary caregivers of children aged 6-12 years are being asked to take part in a survey by Angela Macfarlane as part of her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology.

Her research is centred on the different approaches children use to manage their emotions; for example using humour, avoidance or acting out strategies. 

The study will also investigate whether parenting styles are linked to the way children deal with feelings and, if so, reveal the practices most beneficial.

The research will focus on strict, moderate and lenient parenting styles and how they are linked with children’s emotional skills.

“Moderate parenting has been shown to have good outcomes, with children developing robust and well-rounded life skills, however, both lenient and strict parenting styles have their benefits too,” Ms Macfarlane says. “But I wonder if there’s a shift in the way we parent, past generations were more strict, now perhaps we’re more lenient?

“One of the reasons I’m looking at parenting is because we just parent the way we think we’re supposed parent. We try to be the best parents we can be, but who knows if we are doing it right? Research has shown how high quality parenting, rather than ‘good enough’ parenting helps children to develop robust mental health. However, it is hard to know what makes up ‘high quality parenting’.”

Ms Macfarlane plans to use the research findings to develop resources for parents and psychologists to help children best manage emotions. She believes the “Nigel Latta effect” means that parents are more willing to use psychologists to help them become stronger parents.

Research suggests children who have difficulty managing their emotions also struggle in other areas of their lives and often continue to have these difficulties in adulthood, she says. “In fact, experts in the field claim that more than half of diagnosable mental disorders can be associated with problems managing emotions.”  

While strong links between severe parenting practices (such as abuse or neglect) and how children manage their emotions have been shown, she says it is time to explore how more typical parenting practices might be related.

One hundred parents and primary caregivers of 6-12-year-olds are needed for the study. 

Parents will be asked a few demographic questions over the phone and then complete an anonymous card sorting task asking them whether certain strategies are characteristic of their child. They will complete a short questionnaire about their parenting methods.

For more details or to participate in the study please contact Angela Macfarlane on 06 356 9099 ext 81744

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