Parent-child conflict style: associations with family stress and vulnerability

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jackie A. Nelson Taylor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Marion O'Brien

Abstract: Recent evidence has suggested that conflict between parents and children is not always detrimental to children's well-being; parent-child conflict can be beneficial to children's problem-solving ability and social skills when it occurs in the context of a supportive parent-child relationship. The current study explored the idea that parent-child conflict and parent sensitivity are interrelated behaviors that create a pattern of interaction. Past research has also recognized that parent-child relationships are affected by multiple levels of context. Therefore, a second avenue of exploration in the current study was how stress and vulnerability in the family context was associated with the conflict styles that parents and children use. Results demonstrated that parent-child conflict and parent sensitivity behaviors can be categorized into three conflict styles. A positive style, demonstrated among mother-child and father-child pairs when children were 54 months old and in 1st grade, was characterized by high parent sensitivity and low parent-child conflict. A moderate style, characterized by average sensitivity and low-to-moderate conflict, and an abrasive style, characterized by low sensitivity and high conflict, were identified for both parents at 54 months and mother-child pairs at 1st grade. At 1st grade, some father-child pairs were also classified as either dynamic, characterized by high sensitivity and moderate-to-high conflict, or disengaged, characterized by low-to-moderate sensitivity and low-to-moderate conflict. Stress originating from the child's behavior tended to be more predictive of a more negative parent-child conflict style in preschool, whereas stress originating from the parent tended to be more predictive of a more negative conflict style in 1st grade. Generally, family stress was related to a more negative conflict style when parents' vulnerability to the negative effects of stress was also high. And finally, the accumulation of child-centered stress for mothers and parent-centered stress for fathers across the transition to elementary school was associated with a more negative parent-child conflict style at 1st grade.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
Family Stress, Family Vulnerability, Parent-Child Conflict, Parent Sensitivity
Parent and child
Communication in families

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