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NCBI Bookshelf. This chapter responds to the first part of the committee's charge—to identify core parenting knowledge, attitudes, and practices that are associated with positive parent-child interactions and the healthy development of children ages birth to 8. The chapter also describes findings from research regarding how core parenting knowledge, attitudes, and practices may differ by specific characteristics of children and parents, as well as by context.
The chapter begins by defining desired outcomes for children that appear frequently in the research literature and inform efforts by agencies at the federal, state, and local levels to promote child health and well-being.
It then reviews the knowledge, attitudes, and practices identified in the literature as core—those most strongly associated with healthy child development—drawing primarily on correlational and experimental studies. This is followed by brief discussion of the family system as a key source of additional determinants of parenting. The chapter concludes with a summary. The core knowledge, attitudes, and practices identified in this chapter serve as a foundation, along with contextual factors that affect parenting, for the committee's review of the effectiveness of strategies for strengthening parenting capacity in subsequent chapters of this report.
To determine the salient features of core parenting knowledge, attitudes, and practices, the committee first identified desired outcomes for children. Identifying these outcomes grounds the discussion of core parenting knowledge, attitudes, and practices and helps researchers, practitioners, and policy makers establish priorities for investment, develop policies that provide optimal conditions for success, advocate for the adoption and implementation of appropriate evidence-based interventions, and utilize data to assess and improve the effectiveness of specific policies and programs.
Child outcomes are interconnected within and across diverse domains of development. They result from and are enhanced by early positive and supportive interactions with parents and other caregivers.
These early interactions can have a long-lasting ripple effect on development across the life course, whereby the function of one domain of development influences another domain over time. In the words of Masten and Cicchettip. While the committee focused on young children agesthese outcomes are important for children of all ages.
Children need to be cared for in a way that promotes their ability to thrive and ensures their survival and protection from injury and physical and sexual maltreatment.
While such safety needs are important for all children, they are especially critical for young children, who typically lack the individual resources required to avoid dangers National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, Rather, young children rely on parents and other primary caregivers, inside and outside the home, to act on their behalf to protect their safety and healthy development Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, At the most basic level, children must receive the care, as reflected in a of emotional and physiological protections, necessary to meet normative Seek hot ebony or latina to spoil for growth and physical development, such as guidelines for healthy weight and receipt of recommended vaccinations Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, Physical health and safety are fundamental for achieving all of the other outcomes described below.
Children need care that promotes positive emotional health and well-being and that supports their overall mental health, including a positive sense of self, as well as the ability to cope with stressful situations, temper emotional arousal, overcome fears, and accept disappointments and frustrations.
Parents and other caregivers are essential resources for children in managing emotional arousal, coping, and managing behavior. They serve in this role by providing positive affirmations, conveying love and respect and engendering a sense of security. Provision of support by parents helps minimize the risk of internalizing behaviors, such as those associated with anxiety and depression, which can impair children's adjustment and ability to function well at home, at school, and in the community Osofsky and Fitzgerald, Such symptoms as extreme fearfulness, helplessness, hopelessness, apathy, depression, and withdrawal are indicators of emotional difficulty that have been observed among very young children who experience inadequate parental care Osofsky and Fitzgerald, Children who possess basic social competence are able to develop and maintain positive relationships with peers and adults Semrud-Clikeman, Social competence, which is intertwined with other areas of development e.
Basic social skills include a range of prosocial behaviors, such as empathy and concern for the feelings of others, cooperation, sharing, and perspective taking, all of which are positively associated with children's success both in school and in nonacademic settings and can be fostered by parents and other caregivers Durlak et al. These skills are associated with children's future success across a wide range of contexts in adulthood e.
Cognitive competence encompasses the skills and capacities needed at each age and stage of development to succeed in school and in the world at large. Children's cognitive competence is defined by skills in language and communication, as well as reading, writing, mathematics, and problem solving. Children benefit from stimulating, challenging, and supportive environments in which to develop these skills, which serve as a foundation for healthy self-regulatory practices and modes of persistence required for academic success Gottfried, The child outcomes described above provide the context for considering the range of parenting knowledge, attitudes, and practices and identifying those that research supports as core.
Attitudes may be related to cultural beliefs founded in common experience. Generally speaking, knowledge relates to cognition, attitudes relate to motivation, and practices relate to ways of engaging or behavior, but all three may emanate from a common source. These three components are reciprocal and intertwined theoretically, empirically, and bidirectionally, informing one another.
For example, practices are related to knowledge and attitudes, and often involve the application of knowledge. According to behavior modification theory Ajzen and Fishbein, ; Fishbein et al. In short, if one does not believe in or value knowledge, one is less likely to act upon it. What parents learn through the practice of parenting can also be a source of knowledge and can shape parents' attitudes.
Parenting attitudes are influenced as well by parenting self-efficacy, which has been broadly defined as the level of parents' self-belief about their ability to succeed in the parenting role Jones and Prinz, Parenting knowledge, attitudes, and practices are shaped not only by each other but also by a of contextual factors, including children's characteristics e.
Of particular relevance to this study, the contextual factors that influence parenting knowledge, attitudes, and practices also include the supports available within the larger community and provided by institutions, as well as by policies that affect the nature and availability of supportive services. In response to the study charge Box in Chapter 1this chapter presents the evidence on core parenting knowledge, attitudes, and practices separately. However, it should be noted that in the research literature, the distinctions among these concepts, especially knowledge and attitudes, are not well-delineated and that the applications of these concepts to parenting often are equally informed by Seek hot ebony or latina to spoil wisdom and historical observation.
Parenting is multidimensional. To respond to the varied needs of their children, parents must develop both depth and breadth of knowledge, ranging from being aware of developmental milestones and norms that help in keeping children safe and healthy to understanding the role of professionals e.
This section describes these areas of knowledge, as well as others, identified by the available empirical evidence as supporting core parenting practices and child outcomes. It is worth noting that the research base regarding the association between parental knowledge and child outcomes is much smaller than that on parenting practices and child outcomes Winter et al. Where data exist, they are based largely on correlational rather than experimental studies.
Just because I have a degree, it does not mean it is a degree on how to take care of. The importance of parents' knowledge of child development is a primary theme of many efforts to support parenting. As they suggest, to optimize children's development, parents need a basic understanding of infant and child developmental milestones and norms and the types of parenting practices that promote children's achievement of these milestones Belcher et al. A robust body of correlational research demonstrates tremendous variation in parents' knowledge about childrearing.
Several of these studies suggest that parents with higher levels of education tend to know more about child developmental milestones and processes Bornstein et al. This greater knowledge may reflect differential access to accurate information, differences in parents' trust in the information or information source, and parents' comfort with their own abilities, among other factors. For example, research shows that parents who do not teach math in the home tend to have less knowledge about elementary math, doubt their competence, or value math less than other skills Blevins-Knabe et al.
However, parents' knowledge and willingness to increase their knowledge may change; thus, they can acquire developmental knowledge that can help them employ effective parenting practices.
From pregnancy, some don't know when to go to the doctor, and after birth, when to go to the hospital or the doctor. So we need education from the beginning to the end. The focus on parental knowledge as a point of intervention is important because parents' knowledge of child development is related to their practices and behaviors Seek hot ebony or latina to spoil and Bingham, For example, mothers who have a strong body of knowledge of child development have been found to interact with their children more positively compared with mothers with less knowledge Bornstein and Bradley, ; Huang et al.
Parents who understand child development also are less likely to have age-inappropriate expectations for their child, which affects the use of appropriate discipline and the nature and quality of parent-child interactions Goodnow, ; Huang et al. Support for the importance of parenting knowledge to parenting practices is found in multiple sources and is applicable to a range of cognitive and social-emotional behaviors and practices. Several correlational studies show that mothers with high knowledge of child development are more likely to provide books and learning materials tailored to children's interests and age and engage in more reading, talking, and storytelling relative to mothers with less knowledge Curenton and Justice, ; Gardner-Neblett et al.
Fathers' understanding of their young children's development in language and literacy is associated with being better prepared to support their children Cabrera et al. And parents who do not know that learning begins at birth are less likely to engage in practices that promote learning during infancy e. For example, mothers who assume that very young children are not attentive have been found to be less likely to respond to their children's attempts to engage and interact with them Putnam et al. Stronger evidence of the role of knowledge of child development in supporting parenting outcomes comes from intervention research.
Randomized controlled trial interventions have found that parents of young children showed increases in knowledge about children's development and practices pertaining to early childhood care and feeding Alkon et al. Some studies have found a direct association between parental knowledge and child outcomes, including reduced behavioral challenges and improvements on measures of cognitive and motor performance Benasich and Brooks-Gunn, ; Dichtelmiller et al.
In an analysis of data from a prospective cohort study that controlled for potential confounders, children of mothers with greater knowledge of child development at 12 months were less likely to have behavior problems and scored higher on child IQ tests at 36 months relative to children of mothers with less developmental knowledge Benasich and Brooks-Gunn, This and other observational studies also show that parental knowledge is associated with improved parenting and quality of the home environment, which, in turn, is associated with children's outcomes Benasich and Brooks-Gunn, ; Parks and Smeriglio, ; Winter et al.
Experimental studies of parent education interventions support these associational findings. In an experimental study of parent education for first-time fathers, fathers, along with home visitors, reviewed examples of parental sensitivity and responsiveness from videos of themselves playing with their children Magill-Evans et al. These fathers showed a ificant increase in parenting competence and skills in fostering their children's cognitive growth as well as Seek hot ebony or latina to spoil to infant cues 2 months after the program, compared with fathers in the control group, who discussed age-appropriate toys with the home visitor Magill-Evans et al.
Another experimental study examined a week population-level behavioral parenting program and found intervention effects on parenting knowledge for mothers and, among the highest-risk families, increased involvement in children's early learning and improved behavior management practices. Lower rates of conduct problems for boys at high risk of problem behavior also were found Dawson-McClure et al. Parents' knowledge of how to meet their children's basic physical e. Specifically, parenting knowledge about proper nutrition, safe sleep environments, how to sooth a crying baby, and how to show love and affection is critical for young children's optimal development Bowlby, ; Chung-Park, ; Regalado and Halfon, ; Zarnowiecki et al.
For many parents, for example, infant crying is a great challenge during the first months of life. Parents who cannot calm their crying babies suffer from sleep deprivation, have self-doubt, may stop breastfeeding earlier, and may experience more conflict and discord with their partners and children Boukydis and Lester, ; Karp,Seek hot ebony or latina to spoil
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