Pedagogy: Stricter parents harm the school performance of the children

Children of authoritarian parents tend to be oriented towards their peers
Children from very strict parents seem to have more problems at school. This is the conclusion reached by American scientists after evaluating the data from more than a thousand participants in a long-term study. According to this, adolescents from authoritarian families would not primarily orientate themselves to their parents, but rather to friends and spend more time with them than with school matters. The researchers published their results in the child development magazine.

Better performance through a loving parent-child relationship
If there is a “strict hand at home, it is easier for children to abide by rules and perform better at school - this is probably the assumption that many parents who advocate an authoritarian parenting style follow. But is this assumption really correct? Researchers led by Rochelle Hentges from the University of Pittsburgh (USA) have examined the effects of a particularly strict upbringing and discovered that the opposite is often the case.

According to this, an authoritarian behavior of the parents does not lead to better performance, but in many cases even to a particularly poor performance compared to children of less strict parents, reports the "Society for Research in Child Development" (SRCD) in a current press release.

Researchers evaluate data from more than 1,000 children and adolescents
The researchers used the data from 1,060 participants in the long-term study “Maryland Adolescent Development in Context” (MADICS) for their project. The evaluation focused on the influence of social conditions on the academic and psychosocial development of young people between the ages of 12 and 21. The scientists documented the subjects' highest school-leaving qualifications and whether and in what form these victims had been subjected to verbal or physical attacks by their parents. Furthermore, data on contacts with peers, criminal behavior and sexuality were recorded.

Affected children are more likely to break the rules
It became clear that children who were brought up with "harshness" were more oriented towards friends than towards their parents and comparatively more often violated rules in order to maintain friendships. Measures and behaviors such as shouting, beating and verbal or physical threats were defined as “hard” as a means of punishment.

Children who had experienced a strict and aggressive parenting style in seventh grade were more likely to say two years later that their peer group was more important than other responsibilities such as the rules of the parents. This in turn led to riskier behavior in 11th grade,
including frequent early sexual behavior among young women and greater delinquency (e.g. beating, stealing) among young men. These behaviors ultimately resulted in poorer academic performance and early leaving high school or college.

"Young people whose needs are not met by their primary caregivers can seek confirmation from their peers," said Hentges, according to the press release. "This can include turning to peers in an unhealthy manner and leading to increased aggression and crime, as well as early sexual behavior - at the expense of long-term goals such as higher education," the expert continues.

For many children, violence at home is part of everyday life
The results of the US colleagues are from the perspective of the educational scientist Prof. Dr. No surprise to Holger Ziegler from Bielefeld University. Rather, they would confirm that "verbal abuse and corporal punishment do not thrive on young people's development," the expert told the dpa news agency. Even the “little pat” on the butt is harmful to child rearing, a recent study by the University of Texas and the University of Michigan showed, for example.

Ziegler was not involved in the current project itself, but a few years ago had shown with the “Violence Study 2013” ​​that violence by parents in this country continues to be a terrifying everyday life for many adolescents. According to this, almost a quarter (22.3%) of children and adolescents are beaten often or sometimes by adults - although there has been a legal right to non-violent education since 2000.

Affected children need targeted support
The U.S. scientists now hope that their results will feed into prevention and intervention programs that could increase student engagement and graduation rates. "Since children who are subjected to a hard and aggressive upbringing are susceptible to a lower level of education, they should become the target of appropriate interventions," said the study co-author, Ming-Te Wang. (No)

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