|abstract ||Current theories and models on child development emphasize that children and their environmennt form a system with bidirectional processes of interactions. Transactional models, which integrate parent and child effects, may be especially successful in describing and explaining the development of problem behaviour in children and adolescence. In line with this perspective, this dissertation examined how aggressive and rule-breaking (externalizing) behaviours develop between childhood and adolescence (6-17 years), to what extent individual-level factors (child personality) and proximal contextual factors (parent personality, parenting behaviour) may help to explain their development, and how the development of these risk factors can be described and explained.
The results of this dissertation are based on a large-scale, longitudinal study about externalizing behaviours, parenting, and parent and child personality characteristics (Flemish Study on Parenting, Personality, and Development). Mothers, fathers, teachers, and children filled out questionnaire for up to six times between 1999 and 2009. Further, data was used of a South Korean study, for which mothers of young children filled out questionnaires about their personality characteristics, parenting, and feelings of parental competence.
Results showed that overall, children decreased in aggression and increased in rule-breaking behaviours, and parents on average decreased in overreactive discipline and warmth as children transitioned to adolescence. Interindividual differences in rates of changes were partly explained by initial levels in the respective behaviours when children were still young. Specifically, if children or parents initially showed more externalizing behaviours or overreactive discipline, they decreased less in externalizing and overreactive behaviours over time. Parents, who exhibited less warmth initially, decreased more in warmth over time. Further, overreactive and warm parenting in childhood were related to changes in externalizing behaviours across ten years and vice-versa.
More than parenting, however, child personality explained why children changed in certain ways. First, child personality was related directly to the development of externalizing behaviours across ten years. Second, child personality was related to later parenting, which in turn was related to externalizing behaviours. Third, child personality shaped how overreactive discipline was related to the development of externalizing behaviours.
Regarding the explanation of parenting, our results showed that parents’ personality was more important for overreactive discipline than child personality was, but parent and child personality were similarly important for warmth. Additionally, child aggression and parent personality were related to parental feelings of competence and closeness to the child, which in turn were associated with overreactive and warm parenting.
To summarize, this dissertation shows that differences between children regarding the development of externalizing behaviours are to a large extent explained by the development of parenting as children transition into adolescence. Moreover, child personality plays an essential role in the development of externalizing behaviours, both directly and in concert with parenting. Taking into account both individual child characteristics and parenting behaviours may substantially improve our understanding of externalizing behaviours.|
|keywords ||Aggression, Rule-Breaking, Parenting, Personality, Development, Gender, Mediation, Moderation, Cohort-Sequential|