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Parenting Style May Increase Risk of Teen Victimization

A unique longitudinal investigation reveals that adolescent bullying and victimization may have origins in the home. The new study suggests a derisive parenting style increases the risk that a teen may be bullied or victimized or become a bully or perpetrator.

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University, Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, and Uppsala University in Sweden discovered many bullies have parents who are hostile, punitive and rejecting.

Specifically, investigators discovered a parenting approach that contributes to peer difficulties: those who direct derision and contempt at their children.

Derisive parents use demeaning or belittling expressions that humiliate and frustrate the child, without any obvious provocation from the child. These parents respond to child engagement with criticism, sarcasm, put-downs and hostility, and rely on emotional and physical coercion to obtain compliance.

The study emphasizes the emotional underpinnings of peer difficulties. The researchers followed 1,409 children for three consecutive years from grades 7 to 9 (ages 13-15 years). The findings, which appear in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, show that derisive parenting fosters dysregulated anger in adolescent children.

Dysregulated anger is indicative of difficulties regulating emotion, which typically result in negative emotions, verbal and physical aggression, and hostility. Increases in dysregulated anger, in turn, place adolescents at greater risk for bullying and victimization, and for becoming bully-victims (bullies who also are victimized by other bullies).

The latter finding is noteworthy given that past research indicates that bully-victims are at the greatest risk for poor mental health, behavioral difficulties, and suicidal thoughts when compared to “pure” victims, “pure” bullies, or non-victims. Identification of the family-specific origins of bully-victim status may be a key step in limiting or preventing such poor outcomes.

Importantly, these findings held after controlling for parenting behaviors implicated in child adjustment, such as warmth, control and physical punishment. This study suggests that derisive behavior is a unique form of parenting that increases the risks that adolescent children will adopt inappropriate anger management strategies that increases their risk for peer difficulties.

“Inappropriate interpersonal responses appear to spread from parents to children, where they spawn peer difficulties. Specifically, derisive parenting precipitates a cycle of negative affect and anger between parents and adolescents, which ultimately leads to greater adolescent bullying and victimization,” said Brett Laursen, Ph.D., co-author and FAU a professor of psychology.

“Our study is important because it provides a more complete understanding of how parents’ belittling and critical interactions with adolescents thwart their ability to maintain positive relationships with peers.”

Daniel J. Dickson, Ph.D., a senior author of the study, said, “Implications from our study are far-reaching: practitioners and parents should be informed of the potential long-term costs of sometimes seemingly harmless parenting behaviors such as belittlement and sarcasm.

“Parents must be reminded of their influence on adolescents’ emotions and should take steps to ensure that adolescents do not feel ridiculed at home.”

Source: Florida Atlantic University

Parenting Style May Increase Risk of Teen Victimization

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2019). Parenting Style May Increase Risk of Teen Victimization. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 19, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2019/07/11/parenting-style-may-increase-risk-of-teen-victimization/148514.html
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 11 Jul 2019 (Originally: 11 Jul 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 11 Jul 2019
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.