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Youths see all parental control negatively when there's a lot of it

Date:
November 13, 2009
Source:
Society for Research in Child Development
Summary:
A new study has found that young people feel differently about two types of parental control, generally viewing a type of control that's thought to be better for their development more positively. In the study, researchers asked 67 American children to respond to hypothetical scenarios involving both kinds of control. Their results show that youths put a negative spin on both types of control when the parents in the scenarios exercised a lot of control.
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A new study has found that young people feel differently about two types of parental control, generally viewing a type of control that's thought to be better for their development more positively. However, when parents are very controlling, young people no longer make this distinction and view both types of parental control negatively.

The study, conducted in the United States by researchers at Örebro University in Sweden, appears in the November/December 2009 issue of the journal Child Development. Unlike a lot of prior research on parenting that's focused on control, this study looked at how adolescents view and react to parental control.

Scholars tell us that parental control falls into two categories: behavioral control (when parents help their children regulate themselves and feel competent by providing supervision, setting limits, and establishing rules) and psychological control (when parents are manipulative in their behavior, often resulting in feelings of guilt, rejection, or not being loved). It's thought that behavioral control is better for youngsters' development.

But the study, which asked 67 American children (7th and 8th graders, as well as 10th and 11th graders) to respond to hypothetical scenarios involving both kinds of control, found that the youths put a negative spin on both types of control when the parents in the scenarios exercised a lot of control. Specifically, when parents showed moderate levels of control, they saw psychological control more negatively than behavioral control, but when parents were very controlling, they viewed both types of control negatively.

Specifically, the youths interpreted high levels of control as intrusive and as indicating that they mattered less as individuals. Intrusiveness is a hallmark of psychological control, according to the researchers, and both high levels of psychological control and feeling that you don't matter have been linked to poorer adjustment.

"Under some conditions, such as when personal choice is restricted, adolescents view behavioral control as negatively as psychological control," according to the researchers. "Such negative interpretations may mean that adolescents would respond as poorly to highly restrictive behavioral control as they do to psychological control."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Research in Child Development. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kakihara et al. Adolescents' Interpretations of Parental Control: Differentiated by Domain and Types of Control. Child Development, 2009; 80 (6): 1722 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01364.x

Cite This Page:

Society for Research in Child Development. "Youths see all parental control negatively when there's a lot of it." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091113083305.htm>.
Society for Research in Child Development. (2009, November 13). Youths see all parental control negatively when there's a lot of it. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091113083305.htm
Society for Research in Child Development. "Youths see all parental control negatively when there's a lot of it." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091113083305.htm (accessed May 25, 2015).

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