Mothers' Parenting and Young Economically Disadvantaged Children's Relational and Overt Bullying

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Abstract

We examined links between mothers' parenting and children's relational bullying and overt bullying in a sample of children attending a Head Start program. Mothers completed surveys and face-to-face interviews. Head Start teachers completed assessments on children. Results indicated that a small percentage of children in the sample was rated by teachers as engaging in relational bullying “frequently to almost always,” and slightly over half of the sample was rated by teachers as engaging in relational bullying “occasionally to about half of the time.” Similar results were found for the frequency with which children engaged in overt physical bullying. Regarding mothers' parenting, maternal empathy was most strongly correlated with both children's relational bullying and overt physical bullying. In addition, mothers' inappropriate developmental expectations for children and mothers' need to exert power over children rather than grant them independence were related to children's relational bullying. A composite variable for mothering predicted 11% of the variance in children's relational bullying. No gender differences were found for children's relational bullying and children's overt bullying.

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