Harsh Parenting as a Predictor of Physical, Verbal, and Relational Aggression in Children
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Harsh parenting is positively correlated with aggression in children (e.g., Aucoin, Frick, & Bodin, 2006; Chang et al, 2003). However, little attention has been given to the potential relationship between harsh parenting and other types of child aggression. Harsh parenting is positively correlated with child aggression (e.g., Aucoin, Frick, & Bodin, 2006; Chang et al, 2003). However, little is known about harsh parenting’s relationship with other types of aggression. The current study ran a model of abusive parenting as a predictor of physical, verbal, and relational child aggression. Age, sex, and parental income were controlled. Results showed that harsh parenting was most strongly related to physical aggression (β = 0.24, p < 0.01), weakly, yet significantly, related to verbal aggression (β = 0.14, p < 0.05), and not related to relational aggression (β = 0.09, p > 0.05). Further analyses concluded that each relationship significantly differed from one another, indicating that harsh parenting better predicts child physical aggression than verbal or relational aggression, and does not significantly predict relational aggression. Social Learning Theory accounts for these findings. Presented with physically harsh parenting, children will act physically aggressive (more so than verbally or relationally). Future research should address potential links between various types of harsh parenting practices (verbal abuse and relational aggression) and their respective types of child aggression. A longitudinal study needs to be conducted to clarify the directionality in the relationship between harsh parenting and child aggression.