Children With Cochlear Implants and Their Parents: Relations Between Parenting Style and Children’s Social-Emotional Functioning

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Abstract

Objectives:

Parenting a child who has a severe or profound hearing loss can be challenging and at times stressful, and might cause parents to use more adverse parenting styles compared with parents of hearing children. Parenting styles are known to impact children’s social-emotional development. Children with a severe to profound hearing loss may be more reliant on their parents in terms of their social-emotional development when compared with their hearing peers who typically have greater opportunities to interact with and learn from others outside their family environment. Identifying the impact which parenting styles pertain on the social-emotional development of children who have cochlear implants (CIs) could help advance these children’s well-being. Therefore, the authors compared parenting styles of parents with hearing children and of parents with children who have a CI, and examined the relations between parenting styles and two key aspects of children’s social-emotional functioning: emotion regulation and empathy.

Design:

Ninety-two hearing parents and their children (aged 1 to 5 years old), who were either hearing (n = 46) or had a CI (n = 46), participated in this cross-sectional study. Parents completed questionnaires concerning their parenting styles (i.e., positive, negative and uninvolved), and regarding the extent to which their children expressed negative emotions (i.e., anger and sadness) and empathy. Furthermore, an emotion-regulation task measuring negative emotionality was administered to the children.

Results:

No differences in reported parenting styles were observed between parents of hearing children and parents of children with a CI. In addition, negative and uninvolved parenting styles were related to higher levels of negative emotionality in both groups of children. No relation was found between positive parenting and children’s social-emotional functioning. Hearing status did not moderate these relationships. Language mediated the relationship between parenting styles and children’s social-emotional functioning.

Conclusions:

Children’s hearing status did not impact parenting styles. This may be a result of the support that parents of children with a CI receive during their enrollment in the rehabilitation program preceding and after implantation. Rehabilitation programs should dedicate more attention to informing parents about the impact of parenting behaviors on children’s social-emotional functioning. Offering parenting courses as part of the program could promote children’s well-being. Future longitudinal research should address the directionality of the relations between parenting styles and children’s social-emotional functioning.

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