How Do Maternal Reasoning and Physical Punishment Contribute to Development of Verbal Competence and Behavior ProblemsReport as inadecuate

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As part of a longitudinal investigation of the effect of prenatal alcohol exposure on children's cognitive and socioemotional development, this study examined the role of physical punishment on the development of children's externalizing behavior. Participating in this phase were 296 inner-city African-American families with 7-year-olds who had been assessed in infancy. Each child's caregiver (mother, father, grandmother) was interviewed regarding child rearing practices, including intellectual stimulation and strategies used in conflict with the child. Caregivers and teachers rated behavior problems displayed by the child. Children were tested in the laboratory for intellectual development. Multiple regression findings indicated that caregiver reasoning was positively correlated with quality of intellectual stimulation measured on the HOME Inventory and with maternal verbal competence. Spanking was unrelated to maternal verbal competence and negatively correlated with the HOME Inventory. Caregiver reasoning, quality of intellectual stimulation, and maternal verbal competence were positively related to children's verbal comprehension. Spanking was associated with higher scores on a checklist of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder-like symptoms as related by caregivers and teachers. Spanking was also associated with caregiver-reported anxiety, social problems, thought problems, sex problems, delinquency, and aggression. Reasoning was not related to any behavior problems reported by caregivers or by teachers. The data suggest that caregiver reasoning to resolve conflict promotes verbal skills in children independent of mother's intelligence and the amount of intellectual stimulation in the home, but does not influence child behavior. Spanking seems to promote problems in the relationship with the mother but does not interfere with verbal intelligence. (KB)

Descriptors: Behavior Problems, Black Youth, Blacks, Child Caregivers, Child Rearing, Children, Competence, Corporal Punishment, Discipline, Multiple Regression Analysis, Parent Child Relationship, Verbal Ability

Author: Jester, Jennifer M.; Muzik, Maria; Berube, Renee; Narang, Sonia; Tuttle, Brenda; Jacobson, Joseph


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