Parent-Child Interaction


Parents have the potential of influencing the behavior of their children through the manner in which they interact with them. Parents and their children are interdependent and bound together as a family. Hence, the parent-child interaction is involves the verbal and non-verbal reciprocal influence between these parties within a family system. Irrespective of whether the parents are biological or guardians (adoptive parents or grandparents), their communication is deemed continuous throughout a child’s age and growth stages.

Some parents handle their children with care even when they make mistakes. However, besides giving them harsh punishments, other parents go an extra step of criticizing the kids. Such parents never focus on nurturing their children or appreciating anything that they do.

Parents and guardians are expected to lead and guide their children as they grow using parenting tools that that been specifically designed to offer support in developing a positive parent-child interaction and/or reduce the probability of a negative character development. Furthermore, the existence of interventions such as counseling has enabled parents to handle or correct their children’s behavior. This paper seeks to find out whether parents’ constant appreciation of their kids and modeling of their behavior encourages positive parent-child interaction.

Literature Review

According to Dawson, Ashman, and Carver (2000), early parent-child relationships have tremendous effects on a child’s welfare, their basic understanding, and ability to solve problems. With such interactions, children learn requisite skills, including how to control their emotional intelligence to enhance their relationships with age mates and adults. The daily interaction between parents and young children helps them (children) to grow their intellect while at the same time enhancing their physical growth and emotional development.

A good interaction between parents and all members of the community reflects a positive relationship with their children. Majority of parents and guardians experience stress and uncertainty before childbirth. Expectant mothers commence the parenting role even before the child is born. This shift in mentality develops because the soon-to-be parents witness their mental growth and development into parents with the unborn child.

According to Bryan (2000), such behavior of maintaining a tight bond between parents and the unborn child grows beyond childbirth. Hence, as children grow, they expect to be protected by their highly sensitive parents without any criticism, even when they engage in acts that contravene the societal norms. Parents who are more involved in childcare develop higher chances of a positive parent-child relationship.

According to Lester (2004), challenges such as drug abuse should be eliminated with relevant policies and services such as positive prenatal care, which enables parents to shun drug and substance abuse in children. These drugs trigger stress and emotional imbalance, which may encroach into the parents’ postnatal behavior. Appropriate medical care is also imperative for a proper childbirth, which in most cases translates into a positive parent-child interaction, as the parent is stress-free when it comes to his or child’s wellness issues (Lester, 2004).

Infant mental health, which was developed by Mary Ainsworth, substantiates how responsive or reactionary parenting supports the emotional and physical wellbeing of children, both infants and youngsters. Hence, children are put in a safe position where they can express themselves without backlash. Facial expressions, vocalizations, and body language between parents and their young children create strong bonds and ties. When some children cry, they are communicating to their parents or guardians that they need a particular service. However, some parents interpret such cries as nuisance. In reaction, the beat or yell at the crying kids.

According to Deater-Deckard and O’Connor (2000), such kids grow with a negative perception that their parents are harsh and careless. They end up disrespecting them when they grow. Moreover, parent-child interactions are also influenced by the child’s individual character and the level of their temperament with the parent. For instance, an extroverted child may be difficult for an introvert parent to understand whereas the opposite might also create the same scenario. Children will also react to specific parenting behaviors, which will also influence their interaction with parents (Deater-Deckard & O’Connor, 2000).

As Goldberg (2002) asserts, parents who would wish to embrace a positive relationship with their children adopt various strategies such as working together with the kids when carrying out some activities in the home. By so doing, children get closer to their parents, especially when they realize that they need to ask for some directions to undertake some duties as perfectly as the parents do.

Hence, instead of having fixed and rigid schedules that do not favor or involve the child, a parent should develop a flexible program that is convenient to all members of the family. As a parent, one can also adopt the praise-and-encourage approach for the child to feel loved and appreciated. However, the encouragement should be used sparingly to avoid a high-dependence situation that encourages pride in children (Goldberg, 2002).

Relevant encouragement exalts the children, especially when they pursue significant accomplishments, which make them feel extremely rewarded. A positive parent-child interaction is also generated by making children feel important and needed. Hence, according to Goldberg (2002), parents should seek their children’s assistance probably in small household chores. Creating a courteous culture is also important since it will resonate with the children as they grow up.

Grusec and Danyliuk (2014) address the role of parents’ attitude when bringing up their children. According to the authors, “parenting skills, attitudes, and behaviors have a positive impact on children’s self-esteem, school achievement, cognitive development and behavior” (Grusec & Danyliuk, 2014, para. 1). Parents have the duty to direct children towards the expected behavior by correcting any wrongdoing using permissible measures.

After correcting them, parents need to not only identify the mistakes but also discuss them with their kids in a manner that encourages them (kids) to always engage in what is right in the society. Moreover, parents who do not listen and/or communicate effectively with their children risk interfering with their kids’ socio-emotional and cognitive progress (Grusec & Danyliuk, 2014). In case the child errs, the parent should elicit a conversation by talking less and listening more to find out the perceived reason that has triggered the mistake.

This goal can be achieved by maintaining a good tone to encourage the child to open up and participate in the dialogue. Some parents wrong their kids. By so doing, they “interfere with effective parenting by leading to feelings of anger or depression in the children” (Grusec & Danyliuk, 2014, para. 7).

Whenever they make mistakes, they should apologize as a way of creating a good example to their children, hence promoting a good parent-child interaction. When parents are fully aware of the situations that might cause a negative relationship between them and their children, they can manage to control them and enhance a positive, supportive, and warm environment. They intervene for the sake of a positive parent-child interaction.

According to Crouch and Behl (2001), physically abusive parents inaccurately perceive that only violence can be used to discipline their children. Therefore, physical abuse of children mostly occurs when parents discipline their kids carelessly without considering the impact that such a move will have on their interaction level. Such children may ignore their parents’ authority to a point of a serious and almost fatal aggression. Hence, this situation compels the parents to result in physical punishment as a way of disciplining their children. Moreover, such parents feel that the children are unresponsive to any other form of disciplinary methods. This scenario creates a major rift between parents and their children. Sometimes, it may result in an irreversible negative parent-child interaction.

Study Hypothesis

This research hypothesizes that parents’ constant appreciation of their children and modeling of their behavior encourages positive parent-child interaction.

Research Methods

To test the hypothesis of this research, this paper will adopt the survey method. The study design will be descriptive. It will be based on primary data collected through issuing of questionnaires to the study population. The major advantages of using the questionnaire method of data collection is that large amounts of information can be collected from a big study population in a short period and in relatively cheap way.

Moreover, since the results will be quickly and easily quantified using a software package such as SPSS, they can be analyzed objectively and scientifically in comparison with other methods of research. In this research, the study participants will include 200 randomly selected school-going children between the ages of 14-18 selected from five different schools in Dallas, Texas. The specific age group was selected since it can easily differentiate healthy and unhealthy relationships. The questionnaire seeks to investigate the level of appreciation and behavior modeling that children encounter from their parents. The goal will be to find out whether such parenting method encourages positive parent-child interaction.

Reference List

Bryan, A. (2000). Enhancing parent-child interaction with a prenatal couple intervention. MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, 25(3), 139-145.

Crouch, J., & Behl, L. (2001). Relationships among parental beliefs in corporal punishment, reported stress, and physical child abuse potential. Child Abuse & Neglect, 25(3), 413-419.

Dawson, G., Ashman, S., & Carver, L. (2000). The role of early experience in shaping behavioral and brain development and its implications for social policy. Development and psychopathology, 12(04), 695-712.

Deater-Deckard, K., & O’Connor, T. (2000). Parent–child mutuality in early childhood: Two behavioral genetic studies. Developmental psychology, 36(5), 561-570.

Goldberg, S. (2002). Constructive parenting. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Grusec, J., & Danyliuk, T. (2014). Parents’ Attitudes and Beliefs: Their Impact on Children’s Development. Web.

Lester, B., Andreozzi, L., & Appiah, L. (2004). Substance use during pregnancy: time for policy to catch up with research. Web.

Appendix: Survey Questions

  1. Do you live with your parents?
  2. How would you describe your interaction with your parents since childhood until now?
  3. Have your parents ever punished you physically?
  4. If yes, did you take the punishment positively or did it affect your relationship with them?
  5. Do you feel appreciated in the family?
  6. If the answer to Question 5 is ‘Yes’, specify several instances when your parents appreciated you
  7. Would you say that any type of behavior modeling through punishment negatively influences your level of interaction with your parents?
  8. Do your parents commend you for good performance in your tasks?
  9. If the answer to Question 8 is ‘Yes’, do you think that such a strategy has enhanced your interaction with your parents?