Does sex make a difference? The relationship between negative discipline of parents and externalising behavior of their toddlers.
Heyden, S.J.M. van der
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Objective: The use of negative discipline by parents can have negative consequences for their children. The aim of the current study is to examine the relationship between parents’ negative discipline and the externalizing behavior of toddlers. In addition, the moderation of the sex of the parent or the sex of the child is examined. Method: 461 parents of Dutch children aged 18 – 48 months have filled out the Comprehensive Early Childhood Parenting Questionnaire and Child Behavior Checklist. Based on their answers on these questionnaires, the negative discipline and externalising behaviour were investigated. Results: A single variance analysis (ANOVA) revealed that boys had a higher degree of externalizing behavior than girls. Following this, a paired samples t-test showed no significant difference in the degree of negative discipline between fathers and mothers. A hierarchical multiple regression was carried out, which showed that negative discipline of mothers led to more externalizing behavior. This relationship was stronger for boys than for girls. However, there was no significant relationship found between externalizing behavior and negative discipline of fathers when moderated by sex. Conclusions: Gender and negative discipline are predictors of externalizing behavior in toddlers. The relationship between externalizing behavior and negative discipline was significant in the mother-son dyade. However, the findings of the current survey are difficult to generalize due to violation of assumptions and withdrawal of respondents. Nevertheless, it can be concluded that parents unconsciously discriminate in the sex of their children and therefore raise them differently.