The Interplay of Positive Parenting and Positive Social Information Processing in the Prediction Of Children’s Social and Behavioral Adjustment
Type of Degreedissertation
Human Development and Family Studies
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There is a well documented literature establishing the relationship of parenting behaviors with child positive (i.e. social skills) and negative (i.e. aggressive problems) adjustment outcomes. However, relatively fewer studies have attempted to establish the conditions (or processes) related to the child’s social information processing patterns, (particularly positive patterns) that play a role in this relationship. The goal of the current study is to examine the mediating and moderating role of positive child social information processing in the linkages between positive parenting and changes in child aggressive and socially skilled behavior from K to grade 7. Data were collected from the Child Development Project, a prospective longitudinal study of child and adolescent development from a community sample of children and their families (N=585). Four positive parenting practices (i.e. warmth, involvement, guidance, and discussion) were assessed in kindergarten, and four steps of positive social information processing (SIP) (namely, encoding relevance, benign attributions , prosocial problem solving, and positive evaluations of competent responses to peer dilemmas) were tapped in elementary school. Teacher ratings of social skills and aggressive behavior were collected during kindergarten and grade 7. Results revealed that both, early childhood positive parenting and elementary school positive SIP were separately associated with lower aggression and higher social skills in kindergarten and grade 7. Positive parenting also predicted positive social information processing. Furthermore, positive SIP mediated the association of positive parenting and changes in aggressive and socially skilled behavior from K to grade 7. Results of the study provide support for positive SIP as a moderator of the associations of parenting with changes in child aggressive and socially skilled outcomes from K to grade 7. SIP plays a strengthening and compensatory role in the association of parenting and adjustment, depending on the parenting pattern and SIP step. Specifically, at low levels of positive SIP, parent warmth, guidance, and discussion predict lower aggressive outcomes (strengthening role). However, greater parent involvement predicts socially skilled behavior and low aggression for those with superior encoding skills and competent response evaluation (strengthening role), while parental discussion predicts social skills, only when prosocial problem solving and competent response evaluation are low (compensatory role). Intervention implications include a focus on increasing positive parenting and a competent style of processing social information for parent training and child based interventions and universal school based curriculums to promote prosocial behavior and lower rates of antisocial behavior.