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The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between parenting styles and children’s social skills, establishing significant correlations between those two constructs. A total of 202 children, 7 to 10 years old, male and female, attending second to fourth year of government schools in São Paulo, Brazil, were participants of this research. They collectively completed Children’s Social Skills Test (THAS-C) and Parental Styles Inventory (IEP). Results suggest that positive parental styles are predictors of altruism, while negative parental styles are predictors of assertiveness, conversation, and social confidence. Regarding general social skills, variables that offered the best probable model were positive monitoring, lax discipline, moral behavior, and physical abuse (the higher the general social skill, the lesser the abusive parenting styles). As a conclusion, it seems that different social skills are related to positive and negative parenting styles, reinforcing the idea of a social skill as an attribute of behavior. Keywords parenting styles, social skills, educational practices, educational psychology, development use positive reinforcement, problem-solving skills, supervi- Introduction sion, and positive monitoring of their children (Patterson, Seminal studies in parental styles conducted by Baumrind Reid, & Dishion, 1992). Such abilities, as well as immediately and Black (1967) concluded that intellectually stimulating affecting parental relations, also tend to improve child’s self- parental practices are associated with child’s competence, esteem, decreasing the possibility of antisocial behaviors. calling that an authoritative pattern of parenting. That pattern Connell and Prinz (2002) suggested that parenting styles pre- also includes some tension, that is, firm discipline, punitive- dict high levels of social abilities. Structured and child-needs ness, maturity demands. However, Baumrind (1972) observed responsive’ parent–children interactions were positively that fathers of Afro-American girls were authoritarian and related to school readiness, social abilities, and receptive com- mothers practiced firm enforcement. As a result, girls were munication. Engels, Dekovic, and Meeus (2002) observed that more independent, resistive, and dominant. Darling and democratic and authoritarian/restrictive styles predict chil- Steinberg (1993) proposed a model defining parenting style dren’s prosocial behaviors and sociometric status. Concerning as “a constellation of attitudes toward the child that are com- maternal educational techniques, Lagacé-Séguin and Coplan municated to the child and that, taken together, create an emo- (2005) stated that mothers’ emotional coaching might work as tional climate in which the parent’s behaviors are expressed” a protective factor for dysregulated children, helping them to (p. 488), including goal-specific (parental practices) and non- goal directed behaviors (gestures, tone of voice, and expres- Centro Universitário Fundação Instituto para o Ensino de Osasco, sions of emotions). Osasco, Brazil Many studies in parental styles, over the years, have shown Centro de Estudos em Psicologia, Itu, Brazil differences in authoritative and authoritarian attitudes, and 3 Faculdades Atibaia, Brazil apparently, authoritative styles were related to academic Universidade Estadual Paulista, Rio Claro, Brazil achievement, psychosocial maturity, and cooperation with Corresponding Author: peers (Baumrind & Black, 1967; Steinberg, Elmen, & Mounts, Geraldo A. Fiamenghi Jr., Centro de Estudos em Psicologia, R. da 1989). Most of the studies relate the importance of parental Candelária, 29, 13300-010 Itu, São Paulo, Brazil. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org abilities for the development of prosocial behaviors, if parents Creative Commons CC-BY: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage). 2 SAGE Open cope with difficulties in future peer interactions. Lengua, and mothers tend to contribute in different ways to children’s Honorado, and Bush (2007), using the Social Skills Rating social development, indicating that, for fathers, parental Scale, observed that different parental variables emerged as proximity and positive monitoring were good predictors for significant predictors of social competence. Parental respon- the development of social competence in children, whereas siveness was positively related to cooperation among children, social support was for mothers. Those aspects were also veri- as shown by Landry, Smith, and Swank (2006) study. Results fied by Trommsdorff, Cole, and Heikamp (2012) and Leidy, of Aunola and Nurmi’s (2005) research showed that mothers’ Guerra, and Toro (2010). high level of psychological control, combined with high affec- Research in parental styles suggests the importance of tion, predicted increase in children’s behavioral problems at parent–children relations to promoting socially adequate school. However, mothers’ behavioral control associated with behaviors, as well as those disagreeable to people’s interac- low levels of psychological control was related to lessen tion in different contexts. However, there is still a lot of con- behavioral problems. troversy concerning what sort of parental style tend to favor Chen, Chang, He, and Liu (2005) suggested that prosocial which aspect of children’s social behavior. Consequently, cooperative group functioning tends to strengthen the role of this research was designed to investigate those aspects, maternal support in social and academic adjustment, whereas hypothesizing that positive parental styles will promote antisocial-destructive functioning damages the role of paren- socially adequate behaviors, opposite to negative parental tal support. Thus, peer relations provide a social context to styles. socialization and development of social behavior and moder- ate the effects of parental practices on children’s social Method adjustment. Gottman, Fainsilber-Katz, and Hooven (1997) explained that social skills related to social competence Participants among peers in high school are not the same as the younger A total of 202 children, 7 to 10 years old (M = 8 years, SD = children, as there are more teachers in advanced school 0.88), from second to fourth grade primary school, male and years, as well as more opportunities to be with peers, with female (52.5% male), participated in this research. less adult scrutiny. Bornstein and Bornstein (2007) emphasized that the con- cept of what a good parenting style should be varies in differ- Instruments ent cultural and socioeconomic aspects, and show that an authoritarian and flexible style is good for the White middle- Parental Styles Inventory (IEP). There are 42 questions (Gomide, class nuclear family child, but may not be the best for chil- 2006) corresponding to two positive educational practices dren raised in other circumstances. The authors suggest that (positive monitoring and moral behavior) and five negative a balance between responsiveness and task orientation and practices (negligence, physical and psychological abuse, lax an authoritarian style tends to produce better social compe- discipline, inconsistent punition, and negative monitoring). tence in children. Again, those results may not be applicable Items were assessed by a 3-point Likert-type scale, responses to different cultures. being always (2), sometimes (1), and never (0). Therefore, Glick, Hanish, Yabiku, and Bradley (2012) assessed the each educational practice could have a maximum of 12 points influence of parental practices in social development of pre- and minimum 0, summing up the subject’s responses in each school children, in a longitudinal research with immigrants. factor. Parental practices were associated to adaptation time (less Positive monitoring is understood as a group of educa- behavioral problems) and sociability levels of the children. tional practices involving attention and recognition from par- Parental responsiveness and emotional support were posi- ents to children, as well as affection and care display, mainly tively associated to sociability. However, there were evi- associated to life situations when the child needs most. dences or nonlinear coefficients for children from different Gomide (2006) defined moral behavior as the educational cultures, being lower associations in children born outside practice of values, such as honesty, generosity, justice, trans- United States (non-Hispanic Afro-American and White). mitted by parents to children, discriminating right from wrong Rinaldi and Howe (2012) study showed that self-reported through positive models, in an affectionate relationship. parental styles explained 44% of variance in children’s exter- Inconsistent punition happens when parents punish or nalizing behavior, and mothers’ permissive styles and fathers’ reinforce their children’s behaviors according with the par- authoritarian styles predicted externalizing behaviors; ents’ mood states, incoherently to the children’s behaviors. In authoritative styles predicted adaptive behaviors. this sense, parents’ emotional states will determine educa- Taylor, Conger, Robins, and Widaman (2015) also ana- tional practices, not the child’s actions. The child learns to lyzed the relationship between social support and parental discriminate the parents’ mood states, and does not learn educational behaviors perceived by the parents with chil- whether the behavior was adequate or not. Negligence dren’s social competence in a longitudinal design until ado- appears when parents do not attend to their children’s needs, lescence in Mexican families. Results showed that fathers are absent in their responsibilities, omit help, or interact Bartholomeu et al. 3 without affect. Parental practices involving lax discipline variable control, or manipulation, and no randomization of mean that the parents’ rules are not followed. They threaten sample. As a result, no causal relations are supposed to be the children, but withdraw when faced with oppositional or established, but only associations between those variables. aggressive behaviors, and the rules lose their value. Negative monitoring is defined by parents’ excessive control over their Results and Discussion children’s lives and great amount of repetitive instructions. Family environment is hostile and stressed, and there is no First, the associations between results of IEP and THAS-C dialogue, once children try to protect their privacy, avoiding were analyzed, using a Pearson correlation test. Results are talking to parents (Gomide, 2006). shown in Table 1. Results show that assertiveness is positively related to Children’s Social Skills Test (THAS-C). There are 23 items (Bar- parental styles of inconsistent punition and negligence, sug- tholomeu, Silva, & Montiel, 2014) to be answered in a gesting that some of the children who are more assertive tend 3-point Likert-type scale, corresponding to three dimensions: to perceive their parents as having inconsistent and negligent civility and altruism, resourcefulness and self-control in educational practices. This is a curious data, and a more social situations, and assertiveness with confronting. detailed analysis from the outliers (post-regression analysis First dimension, civility and altruism involve abilities described below) revealed that the low correlation coeffi- such as thanking for praise, saying sorry, helping friends, cient is justified in more assertive children. In those cases, praising friends, expressing positive feelings to peers, and the pattern revealed in this sort of perception of parental being polite when manifesting an opinion. Resourcefulness practices in fathers was more regular, showing the found and self-control in social interaction need to have their indi- association. Hence, it is possible that more assertive children cators inverted to be assessed; negative situations suggested tend to report problems they face with their parents and also are the ones when the child is exposed to new, unknown, or observe not only positive but also negative aspects associ- threatening situations, such as being criticized, speaking in ated to parental practices and talk about them more easily front of the classroom, ending a conversation, introducing to than low assertive children. an unknown group. Finally, the third dimension, assertive- On the other hand, civility and altruism were significantly ness with confronting, includes defending own rights and and positively associated to positive monitoring, moral opinions and is a predictor of resistance to group pressure, behavior, negligence, and lax discipline, meaning that chil- stating self-esteem, even at the risk of a negative reaction dren possessing well-developed abilities of being grateful, from the other. apologizing, helping friends, expressing positive feelings, Items are specific to a given situation. Thus, some indica- being polite may have parents using positive or negative edu- tors were developed according to school contexts. cational styles. The problem of self-report is manifest again, as higher associations are observed in higher social skilled children, who tend to perceive more inadequate parental Procedures practices. There were also positive and negative correlations After principals and teachers signed a document allowing the in exposure to strangers and negative monitoring, as well as research to be conducted within the schools premises, as well exposure to strangers and moral behavior. Those results sug- as parents agreeing their children to participate in the study, gest that either a positive educational practice or a negative data were collected during class times. Aims of the study one may be associated to socially adequate behaviors. were explained to the children and any doubts about the Finally, general score in THAS-C was significantly and instruments were clarified. Children completed both the positively correlated to positive monitoring, moral behavior, THAS-C and IEP. negligence, and lax discipline, reinforcing previous correla- This research was approved by the University Ethics tions, suggesting that positive and negative parental styles Committee, process number 810/2011. may be associated to children’ good behaviors. Data were collected in classrooms, after authorization by As expected, there were significant correlations between the institution and signing of consent letters by the partici- IEP and THAS-C variables, including positive as well as pants or the legally responsible of them, in periods allowed negative aspects of parenting styles. Those results indicate by the teachers. The aims of the research were explained to that socially adequate skills are not always associated to a the participants and tests were collectively completed, with positive parenting style’s pattern (Lagacé-Séguin & Coplan, doubts being answered by the examiners. Information con- 2005). However, as suggested by other studies (Bornstein & cerning social skills and parental styles were collected in first Bornstein, 2007; Chen et al., 2005; Gottman et al., 1997), place. As the Test of Social Skills in Children is a simpler and other cultural aspects must be taken in consideration, such as easier instrument to be answered, it was the last one to be environmental differences and group behaviors in class- completed. rooms, all of them not controlled in this research. This research was designed as a correlational study, According to definition, social skills are learned and can be because instruments are self-reported and there was no trained. Consequently, the possibility of certain behaviors 4 SAGE Open Table 1. Pearson Correlation Coefficients Between IEP and that explain the higher independent variable variance (social THAS-C Measures. skills factors). A summary of final models presenting signifi- cant ANOVA and variance percentage on each gender is Exposure to Civility and showed in Table 2, as well as F values, significance levels, Variables Assertiveness strangers General altruism and total degrees of freedom. Table 3 shows regression coef- Inconsistent punition ficients and significance levels, as well as information on r 0.34 0.13 0.17 0.15 multicolinearity between predicting variables, obtained in p 0.01 0.31 0.19 0.24 tolerance and VIF statistic levels, meaning that the nearer n 62 64 62 62 1.00 for the first index, the better, as the second is not too Negative monitoring high. Data are adjusted, with no multicolinearity, as none r 0.19 0.33 0.18 0.09 condition index is higher than 15. p 0.13 0.01 0.16 0.48 Concerning assertiveness, the model that included nega- n 65 66 64 65 tive monitoring and physical abuse was the best to explain Positive monitoring this feature of social skill. Coefficient tendency suggests that r −0.028 0.17 0.53 0.56 physical abuse decreases children assertiveness, but negative p 0.83 0.18 0.00 0.00 monitoring increases it (negative monitoring scores tended n 59 61 59 59 to increase 0.27 in each point of Assertiveness scale). It is Moral behavior intriguing to consider that a hostile and stressed environ- r −0.038 0.26 0.50 0.48 ment, combined with an excessive parent control tend to be p 0.77 0.03 0.00 0.00 associated to assertiveness. Those results support Anthony n 64 66 64 64 et al. (2005) study. Neglect r 0.23 0.24 0.34 0.32 It must be considered that information was collected in p 0.07 0.06 0.01 0.01 children with a tendency to be more assertive. It is also inter- n 62 64 62 62 esting to note that the internal consistency of the parental Lax discipline styles self-report factors tended not be so high as in Glick r −0.011 0.08 0.27 0.30 et al. (2012) study, that showed alpha values between .5 and p 0.93 0.55 0.03 0.02 .6 for self-reports in parental styles measures. Alpha values n 61 63 62 62 in Aunola and Nurmi (2005) varied from .66 to .82 and in Abuse Lagacé-Séguin and Coplan (2005) varied between .83 and r 0.16 0.01 −0.15 −0.18 .71. Those last authors attest problems in employing mea- p 0.21 0.92 0.22 0.15 sures of self-report to assess parental styles, because although n 63 65 63 63 being useful when working with children, the amount of IEP information people report on parental styles is insufficient, r −0.35 −0.07 0.08 0.11 as they may not be concentrated in specific details and p 0.01 0.62 0.58 0.40 features. n 55 57 56 56 Literature associating parenting styles and social skills Note. IEP = Parental Styles Inventory; THAS-C = Children’s Social Skills Test. varies a lot regarding children, and studies state those rela- tions, whereas others totally deny them. Those differences being learned in social interactions in schools, independent of probably stem from methodological issues, not only in gath- parenting styles, may be an explanation of the associations ering information procedures but also in cultural and socio- found in this study, although they must suffer further investi- economic aspects, as Bornstein and Bornstein (2007) gation, mainly considering that group effect tend to moderate suggested that some behaviors are means of adaptation to the relation between parenting styles and social skills (Chen environment. Some researchers such as Engels et al. (2002); et al., 2005). Another question to be raised concerns children’s Engels, Finkenauer, Meeus, and Dekovic (2001); Gomide, emotional problems stemming from each parenting style, Salvo, Pinheiro, and Sabbag (2005); Pacheco, Teixeira, and mediated by social skills, according to Engels et al. (2002). Gomes (1999) employed self-report questionnaires, while Although analyses have produced important discussion other like Connell and Prinz (2002), who found positive pat- material, they do not specifically describe the predictive terns of parent–child interactions and prosocial behaviors, power of each parenting style on each social skill. used situational tasks, as assessment. Nevertheless, the pres- Consequently, after establishing correlations between instru- ent study found those patterns employing children self- ments’ measures, a backward model linear regression was reports, a relatively new approach in literature. conducted, aiming to investigate which parenting style Social confidence and conversational ability were would better explain each aspect of children’s social skill. explained in a better fashion by parenting styles based in This procedure has the advantage of inserting all predicting inconsistent punition and negative monitoring. However, all variables (parenting styles) in a model, keeping only the ones coefficients showed a negative relation, suggesting that, Bartholomeu et al. 5 Table 2. Summary of Meaningful Models of Linear Regression Using Backward Method. η Estimated generate Number Model R η (adjusted) standard error levels (gl) F p 1 Assertiveness × Parenting Styles .337 .113 .099 1.56830 187 7.974 .000 2 Conversation and Social Confidence × Parenting Styles .417 .174 .160 2.20205 186 13.032 .000 3 Altruism × Parenting Styles .583 .340 .318 3.69628 179 15.383 .000 4 Social Skill × Parenting Styles .542 .294 .274 4.65679 177 14.738 .000 Table 3. Linear Regression Coefficients and Statistics for Colinearity Diagnosis. Non-standard Standard coefficient coefficient Colinearity diagnosis variance inflation Model B SE β t p Tolerance factor (VIF) (Constant) 2.713 0.456 5.950 .000 Inconsistent punition 0.115 0.064 .143 1.796 .074 .750 1.333 Negative monitoring 0.217 0.057 .272 3.801 .000 .923 1.084 Physical abuse −0.150 0.055 −.212 −2.732 .007 .787 1.270 (Constant) 8.226 0.809 10.173 .000 Moral behavior 0.142 0.082 .128 1.727 .086 .810 1.234 Inconsistent punition −0.402 0.082 −.340 −4.892 .000 .922 1.084 Negative monitoring −0.240 0.088 −.207 −2.731 .007 .777 1.287 (Constant) 6.492 1.773 3.662 .000 Positive monitoring 0.594 0.159 .275 3.725 .000 .676 1.479 Moral behavior 0.660 0.165 .317 3.999 .000 .586 1.706 Neglect 0.411 0.127 .224 3.226 .001 .766 1.305 Lax discipline 0.497 0.147 .211 3.370 .001 .944 1.059 Negative monitoring −0.278 0.154 −.130 −1.800 .074 .708 1.412 Physical abuse −0.271 0.146 −.138 −1.852 .066 .668 1.498 (Constant) 16.470 2.243 7.343 .000 Positive monitoring 0.682 0.204 .256 3.352 .001 .684 1.461 Moral behavior 0.491 0.192 .194 2.551 .012 .693 1.443 Neglect 0.303 0.159 .136 1.902 .059 .781 1.280 Lax discipline 0.617 0.188 .213 3.283 .001 .944 1.060 Physical abuse −0.583 0.181 −.243 −3.227 .001 .705 1.418 opposite to assertiveness, conversational ability and social Finally, parenting styles of moral behavior, followed by confidence tend to decrease in the presence of parental styles positive monitoring, neglect, and lax discipline, offered the perceived as inconsistent, punitive, and negative monitored. best explanation for altruism, with significant coefficients. Each score of Conversation and Social Confidence scale cor- Each score in Altruism scale increased 0.32 in Moral responds to a decrease in 0.34 in inconsistent punishment. Behavior Parenting Style scale. Those results are in accor- Apparently, parents who do not provide clear educational dance to Gomide et al. (2005) study that showed associations parameters randomly reinforce children, as well as monitor in expressions of positive feelings (a feature of altruistic and control children’s activities with repetitive instructions, people) with positive monitoring and moral behavior, con- hostility and stress tend to be associated with children’s firming the role of those two styles in supporting prosocial problems in conversation and social confidence. Maybe attitudes. those social skills tend to develop more positively in contexts Regarding general social skills, variables that offered the that offer clear parameters, as well as open and caring dia- best probable model were positive monitoring, lax disci- logue (Lengua et al., 2007). pline, moral behavior, and physical abuse (the higher the 6 SAGE Open general social skill, the lesser the abusive parenting styles). the development of social skills imply in analyzing what is Lax discipline is an intriguing variable predicting social socially apt in a given context. skills, but Lagacé-Séguin and Coplan (2005) showed that an It is important to note that despite the assessment of chil- open and affectionate style tend to produce an overemphasis dren’s perception being necessary to have an idea of how he in children’s emotional socialization. In general, positive or she characterizes his or her parents (which will have an monitoring seemed to be the style that produces more socially impact on his or her way of dealing with them and with the adequate behaviors, in accordance to Patterson et al. (1992) world), children who are more socially skilled tended to study. In fact, positive monitoring incorporates a series of express both positive and negative opinion regarding their behaviors, such as attention and affection and caring dis- parents, in accordance of self-reporting format employed in plays, being recognized by children who tend to express this study and that explains part of the results. In fact, litera- similar behaviors. ture studies in general show slightly low internal consistency It is important to highlight Aunola and Nurmi’s (2005) (Aunola & Nurmi, 2005; Lagacé-Séguin & Coplan, 2005). study, as the authors revealed that parental style based in Therefore, despite the possible explanations, new studies behavioral restraint tended to produce less social problems, should be designed, particularly using a longitudinal per- related to psychological control, which in some ways was spective, trying to test the hypothesis of this research. also confirmed by this study. It must be observed that social skills are related to positive On the contrary, the extent of this educational style to and negative parenting styles, reinforcing the idea of a social favor assertiveness development must be the object of fur- skill as an attribute of behavior. Despite being related to per- ther studies. Authoritarian parental style patterns tend to be sonality, it forms a more stable trait that could be learned by associated in literature to problems of expression of personal the child in contexts other than home, such as school, for opinions, mainly in teenagers (Engels et al., 2002; Pacheco example (Bartholomeu, Carvalho, Silva, & Machado, 2011; et al., 1999). Bartholomeu, Montiel, & Pessotto, 2012). Nevertheless, it must be asserted that data in this study, Some limits of the study must be noted. The first is related although establishing a hierarchy in associating and explain- to both instruments being self-report measures. Some kind of ing those variables, do not present enough design to test observations of parent–child relations could provide other causal assumptions, and new studies with more control and clues to parenting effects. The second problem stems from manipulation of independent variables are necessary, as well parents not being assessed; their position on parenting could as a sample randomization. be of interest to compare with children’s viewpoints. The third limit concerns the fact that the study is not longitudinal. Many effects of parenting styles can be better observed Final Considerations throughout childhood, more than cross-sectionally. Further Initial hypotheses were partially confirmed because positive studies should address those issues. parenting styles were only good predictors for altruism as a Nowadays, great number of children spend more and social skill. Conversational abilities were related to the more time at school, and from younger ages, leading to the absence of a negative parenting style, but not to a positive speculation that the impact of schooling is relevant to devel- one, and assertiveness was related to a negative parenting oping socially competent skills. That should be another area style. for future investigations. Data on this study question the association of certain types of negative parental styles with social skills, despite Declaration of Conflicting Interests limitations of correlational design. Despite low coefficients, The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect it seems that for some children, the perception of a parental to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. negative style of educating does does not necessarily imply that they are not developing social skills. That may be a Funding result of those skills being learnt at school, as well as at home The author(s) received no financial support for the research and/or and other social groups that children participate in. authorship of this article. 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SAGE Open – SAGE
Published: Apr 13, 2016
Keywords: parenting styles; social skills; educational practices; educational psychology; development
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