Parenting young children
Growing up in Scotland (GUS) is tracing the lives of thousands of children across Scotland from birth to the teenage years and beyond. This information can tell how parents are parenting, what influences parenting and how parenting styles impact on children. Findings include:
- Home learning environment: Most parents of children under five are providing a good 'home learning environment: at age 22 months, 79% of children were read to every day, 58% sang songs while 28% had the opportunity to paint or draw every day. However, children from less advantaged households were doing these activities less frequently. Children taking part in more activities scored higher on cognitive ability tests, even after other socio-demographic factors were taken into account.
- Discipline techniques: While one third of parents in Scotland had used smacking by the time their child was aged four, only 13% of parents agreed that it was a useful technique.
- Parenting support: A quarter of parents with a child under one said that they found it difficult to know who to ask for help or advice about being a parent. Young mums were more likely to say they did not like classes or groups.
- Parenting and children's health: A lack of parenting skills were associated with poorer health and health behaviours amongst children. In particular, high levels of parent-child conflict were associated with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.
By Lesley Kelly, CRFR and Paul Bradshaw, ScotCen Social Research: Growing up in Scotland.
Parenting teenagers: relationships and behaviour
Calls to helplines indicate that parents of teenagers often struggle and feel isolated, particularly with behaviour and relationship issues. The About Families project has highlighted a number of themes emerging from research about the key issues for parents of teenagers:
- Conflict: Conflict between parents and teens is not necessarily a bad thing and can play a useful role in teenagers' development. It is how often, with whom, and why conflict happens that is most important, along with how parents manage their own behaviour. Conflict with friends, which usually involves some attempt to limit the damage and preserve a friendship, can help teenagers to learn how to manage conflict and develop emtional responses.
- Communication and relationships: Teenagers who are communicated with and involved in family decisions are more competent in making decisions about their lives and less likely to engage in problem behaviour.
- Moving to independence: It is natural for parents to feel some anxiety as teenagers become more independent. However, problems can arise if this anxiety makes them act in a way which is instrusive or inhibits a teenager's exploration of new environments and relationships. Parents may manager better when they see becoming independent as a healthy part of adolescent development.
- Parent satisfaction: How happy parents feel about their parenting is linked to how they view the development of their teenagers.
- Parenting together: Parents agreeing about their approach to parenting is more important than who does what, or how much each is involved. Both parents of disabled teenagers are likely to be involved in all areas of their teenagers life.
- How much do parents about their teenagers?: There are differences between mothers and fathers in how they find out about their children's lives. Howevere, how much they know could be the result of what teenagers choose to tell them rather than what they try to find out. Ensuring a teenager feels comfortable about sharing information cold be more effective in deterring them from problem behaviour than trying to control their activities.
Although some parents of disabled teenagers think that more detailed communication is necessary, generally the issues are thought to be the same, regardless of disability.
By Karen Mountney: About Families