Skip to main content

Parental Discipline

Associations between 11 parental discipline behaviours and child outcomes across 60 countries
Ward KP, Grogan-Kaylor, A, Ma J, et al.
BMJ Open 2023;13:e058439. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2021-058439


Objectives To test associations between 11 caregiver aggressive and non-aggressive discipline behaviours and outcomes (aggression, distraction and prosocial peer relations) of children under 5 years in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Participants Data came from the fourth (2009–2013) and fifth (2012–2017) rounds of the UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys. Analyses were restricted to households with children under 5 years, leaving a sample of 229 465 respondents across 60 LMICs. Data were analysed using Bayesian multilevel logistic regression.

Results Verbal reasoning (80%) and shouting (66%) were the most common parental discipline behaviours towards young children. Psychological and physical aggression were associated with higher child aggression and distraction. Compared with not using verbal reasoning, verbal reasoning was associated with lower odds of aggression (OR)=0.92, 95% credible interval (CI)=0.86 to 0.99) and higher odds of prosocial peer relations (OR=1.30, 95% CI=1.20 to 1.42). Taking away privileges was associated with higher odds of distraction (OR=1.09, 95% CI=1.03 to 1.15) and lower odds of prosocial peer relations (OR=0.92, 95% CI=0.87 to 0.98). Giving the child something else to do was associated with higher odds of distraction (OR=1.06, 95% CI=1.01 to 1.12). The results indicated country-level variation in the associations between parenting behaviours and child socioemotional outcomes.

Conclusions Psychological and physical aggression were disadvantageous for children’s socioemotional development across countries. Only verbal reasoning was associated with positive child socioemotional development. No form of psychological aggression or physical aggression benefited child socioemotional development in any country. Greater emphasis should be dedicated to reducing parental use of psychological and physical aggression across cultural contexts.

Add Comment

Comments (0)

Copyright © 2023, PACEsConnection. All rights reserved.
Link copied to your clipboard.