Parent-to-child aggression, intimate partner aggression, conflict resolution, and children’s social–emotional competence in early childhood

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Abstract

Early childhood is critical to the development of children's social–emotional competence, which predicts peer relations and school adjustment in later periods of childhood. The effects of experiencing or witnessing aggression on children's social–emotional development are well known, yet the role of conflict resolution within the family has not been sufficiently studied. Social information processing models suggests that children who experience positive forms of conflict resolution within the family are likely to generalize these experiences and related skills outside the family, and thus develop greater social–emotional competence. In this longitudinal study, 128 parents (representing 79 families) participated in four quarterly telephone interviews in which they described aggressive conflicts that occurred in their family for which their children were present, including the degree to which each conflict was resolved. They also reported on the frequency of intimate partner aggression (IPA) and parent-to-child aggression (PCA) that occurred while the child was in toddlerhood and preschool as well as children's social–emotional competence at the end of the study. Multi-level models reveal that parents’ reports of positive conflict resolution mitigated the concurrent and longitudinal negative effects of children's exposure to both IPA and PCA on their social–emotional competence. These findings reinforce prevention scientists’ emphasis on conflict resolution skills as an essential component of parent education programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)823-840
Number of pages18
JournalFamily Process
Volume61
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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