Why do parents of young children often feel overwhelmed by their children’s behaviour?
A new paper by researchers at the University of New South Wales has shed light on the problem, which is particularly prevalent in the affluent inner city, with the research revealing that about one in five parents report that their children are often in conflict with their parents, or that they are not getting the support they need to cope with their behaviour.
While it is unclear why some parents feel this way, one theory is that they feel that the child is not being cared for enough.
The paper is published in the journal Psychological Science.
A child who behaves like this will not grow up to be a successful parent.
“Parents who have had children who behaved badly with them may feel they can do nothing about it, but this is not true,” said Dr Michelle Williams, lead author and assistant professor in the department of Psychology at the university.
“Instead, they feel as if they are powerless to stop the problem from happening.”
Dr Williams’ study of 5,000 parents was conducted over a 12-month period, beginning with an in-depth survey of parents of children aged 12 to 17.
They were asked about how often their children would behave in a certain way, from aggression to neglect to disrespect.
In one particular survey, parents of two-year-olds reported that they were often upset by their child’s behaviour.
The researchers then asked about the support that they received from their children, including how often they would talk about the problem and what types of actions they would take to try to resolve the problem.
In response to the question, “Do you feel that you or your child is often in trouble?” the researchers found that one in three parents had experienced some level of conflict with the child.
They also found that almost two in five (21 per cent) parents experienced some form of neglect.
A further 26 per cent reported that their child was frequently bullied.
“The results showed that many parents reported being overwhelmed by how their children behave, and that they felt they could not do anything about it,” Dr Williams said.
“They felt that they could do nothing, because the child was not getting what they needed.”
“It’s hard for parents to feel as though they are helping their children,” she said.
‘The children will always be there’ The study also revealed that some parents felt as though the child would always be around and that there was no support for them to take action.
“One of the key findings of this study is that parents who reported a higher level of stress and conflict with children reported that children’s emotional development was delayed for at least two years, and sometimes longer, after the child left home,” Dr Dr Williams added.
“In contrast, parents who were less stressed or who reported no conflict with or neglect reported that the children would not grow out of it, that their emotional development would continue to lag, and often the child wouldn’t know how to cope when the child did start to experience distress.”
Dr Michelle said that while parents may feel that they cannot stop their children from behaving badly, they do not necessarily have to.
“It may be that the kids will always have a place for the parent who makes them behave badly,” she added.
Dr Williams noted that while many parents may not realise it, many children may be able to identify with their mother, because it is often a source of comfort for them.
“As we are increasingly aware of the effects of trauma on children, parents are increasingly looking to the children’s mother as a source for comfort,” she explained.
“Children’s mothers can be incredibly resilient and resilient children.
So we need to be able recognise that these are the children who are going through trauma.”
The paper also revealed the effects that poor parenting can have on a child’s health.
“Poor parenting is often linked with higher rates of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions,” Dr Michelle noted.
“When children have a parent who is abusive, controlling, or has other unhealthy behaviours, they may feel more anxious and depressed.”
‘It’s a challenge for society to change’ “In a way, it is a challenge to society to have these children be able express themselves as adults,” Dr William said.
Dr William added that it is important for society as a whole to acknowledge the need to take care of children and to provide supports for children and their families.
“We need to recognise that this is a problem for society,” she noted.
The research also highlighted the challenges that children have in school, where many of them are struggling with behaviour that could be called antisocial behaviour, and which can lead to bullying, teasing and isolation.
“While we can try to understand why parents are struggling to cope, the answers may not be as straightforward as they might first seem,” Dr Howard said.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released data showing that around 10 per cent of children are not in school