Is it the children’s business? - Parents’ supervising and consulting styles and their beliefs about the children’s peer relationships Marita Neitola ResearcherDepartment of Education University of TurkuFinland E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
Direct parental influences • Parents as designer :- Parents design children’s social environment by housing, choosing day-care or school and activities • Parent as mediator :- Find playmates and build a network, initiate and arrange play opportunities, form and maintain relationships with specific peers, negotiate differing peer contexts, avoid undesirable playmates or play activities • Parent as supervisor: Supervision includes parents’ efforts to oversee and regulate children’s ongoing interactions and relationships with peers, 3 forms: interactive intervention, directive intervention , monitoring • Parent as consultant: In consulting role parents advise children about their peer interactions and social relationships: how to initiate friendships, manage conflicts, maintain relationships.
Consulting and advice-giving • ‘decontextualized discussion’ (Lollis &al. 1992) • Proactive: parents advice children about how to cope with new or unfamiliar peer situations • Reactive: discussions in response to children’s interpersonal problems, e.g. problem-solving, identifying solutions (Parke & Le Sieur 2002) • The frequency of naturally occuring discussions and the inclusion of parental advice are associated with children’s peer acceptance and social competence (Laird & al. 1994) • ‘sounding board’ for children’s self-generated assessments and solutions (Kuczynski 1984)
Consulting… • is associated with positive child outcomes, especially implemented by supportive or noninterfering mothers (Cohen 1989) • Mothers of rejected and neglected children are less likely to recommend group-oriented entry strategies but merely passive strategies (ask peer’s name) • Mothers of rejected children don’t use postplay advice • Positive peer outcomes for the children seem to be related to higher maternal sensitivity; negative peer outcomes are associated to higher levels of maternal intrusion ( Pettit & Harrist 1993) • The impact of advice giving changes across development (Ladd 1992; Parke & al. 1994) and the use of it changes across the child’s social adaptation topeers and social skills (McDowell & al. 2003)
Consulting:research outcomes • Children of mothers who facilitated preschooler’s entry into play situation by use of more group-oriented advice strategies were more socially competent. (Finnie & Russell 1988;1990) • Children whose mothers offered more positive solutions to peer dilemmas were rated as more socially competent by teachers (Mize & al. 1993) • Explicit advice giving predicts social competence more than simply discussing peer situations (Finnie & Russell 1990; Mize & al. 1994, also McDowell & al. 2003)
Consulting:research outcomes • Father’s advice giving is very significant factor in the quality of children’s social competence (McDowell & al. 2003) • Parental coaching correlates to children’s positive use of social skills as rated by teachers ( Pettit & al. 1998) • Earlier studies suggest that parental influence in the form of supervision and advice-giving can significantly increase the interactive competence of young children (Parke & O’Neil 2000).
Background information • Our longitudinal data of children’s (N= 179) self and peer- reported problems revealed that children’s difficulties in peer relations were common and accumulative (rejection, victimization, bullying, withdrawal, loneliness) • The children were followed up three years: from 5 year old (kindergarten- phase) through preschool (6 year olds) until the first grade (7 year olds) • Children with multiple or/and stable peer problems can be at a stronger risk of social exclusion
In this presentation • I try to illustrate, how parents evaluate their children’s peer relations and what kind of consulting and advice-giving strategies they use to support the children’s social relations with peers • I’ll describe parents’ opinions and beliefs of their influencing on children’s peer relations and their knowledge of children’s quality of social interaction with peers
Theme interview • Parent Interview (semi-structured theme interview) • Theory-based orientation • Parents (N=55) of 38 children, 36 mothers, 1 grandmother, 17 fathers • Parents (n=21 ) of 11 No Risk children (=NR), • Parents (n=24) of 15 Low Risk-children (=LR) • Parents (n=16) of 12 High Risk- children (=HR) *Interviews were carried out when the children were in the first grade at school in spring and in summer
Children could be grouped: • children with stable, multiple and increasing peer problems are at high risk of social exclusion (later HR) • children with varying or decreasing problems have lowrisk (later LR) • children with temporary or no problems have no risk (later NR) • Also the parents were categorised according to children’s vulnerability to social exclusion
Consulting and advice-giving/analyses • Included references like: • Telling child how to introduce him/herself to other children • How to get in on playing with others • How to initiate relationships and contacts to other children • How to behave in play sessions and different interaction situations • How to solve conflict situations and other social problems • Suggestions for suitable plays and games • Discussions about the child’s feelings and experiences from interpersonal relations
Results: The risk and parents’ use of consulting and advice-giving
Mothers and fathers • Fathers reported more often not using so much advice-giving than mothers • Fathers told they had encouraged the child in contacts with peers and introducing him/herself to other children
Identifying difficulties in social interaction: • the child is shy or socially introvert • the child doesn’t have peers or getting peers is very demanding task for her/him • the child is not willing to take contact or wants to be with alone • the child has not any difficulties • the child gets into troubles with peers • the child is bossy or too submissive
The risk and the parents’ understanding of their children’s quality of social interaction
Counseling seems to be less detailed within HR-parents’ than within NR-parents’ advice giving, with one exceptional mother, who puts her energy in improving her child’s social competence using advice-giving and consulting as remedial way “ We’ve talkeda lot about this kind of situations and they often were like this at school .We discussed about what would be a sensible thing to say in this and that situation and what to do next. He’s terribly shy to go out so I press him by saying that he should go and call on N., but one time is enough for him so if his mate refuses him, he’s feeling so down that he cries bitter tears and wouldn’t wanna try again.” (HR-mother 167, boy has Asperger-diagnosis)
Results • Preliminary results indicated that parents of the high risk- children used less supervision and consultative methods when guiding their children in social interaction. • Counseling seemed to be less detailed than no risk -parents’ advice giving. It can be assumed that children with stable and multiple peer relation problems need more positive and encouraging supervising, better appropriately situation-orientated coaching and more consultative actions from their parents. • Parents of no risk children seem to be more aware of their children’s peer relations and the social competence of their child
Results • There is a statistically significant and rather strong association between children’s level of risk and parents’ degree of advice-giving (p<.05) • Parents of High risk children coach and advice their children less than No risk-parents • Also most of Low risk-children’s parents reported that they did not consult their children about having peers, initiating plays and about social interaction with peers • After all, socialization has been seen to some extend children’s own business
Discussion • These results refers to earlier studies in suggesting that parental influence in the form of supervision and advice-giving can significantly increase the interactive competence of young children (Parke & O’Neil 2000). • Results are also parallel to the findings that children, whose mothers produce positive strategies and present social difficulties in neutral and encouraging terms, are rated as more socially competent and popular (Mize & Pettit 1997), whereas mothers of poorly accepted children use mostly ineffective verbal guidance (Russell & Finnie 1990).