A longitudinal investigation of the effects of parental discipline strategies on social competence in early childhood

Abstract views: 942 / PDF downloads: 525





Parental discipline, Social competence, Fragile families, Childhood, Urban families


In the current study, we investigated the associations between parenting discipline strategies (i.e., physical punishment and non-violent punishment) and social development using n = 3265 reports from primary caregivers across three waves of data. Analyses were conducted using cross-lagged structural equation modeling, where we evaluated the developmental effects of physical punishment and non-violent punishment on social competence. The findings showed partial support for developmental changes between non-violent punishment and social competence unfold reciprocally and longitudinally; the relationship between physical punishment and social competence appeared unrelated, as physical punishment in Wave 2 only negatively predicted social competence in Wave 3. These findings underscore the importance of understanding the developmental pathways for parenting discipline strategies and social skill development among children living in urban neighborhoods.


Akhtar, P., Malik, J., & Begeer, S. (2017). The grandparents’ influence: Parenting styles and social competence among children of joint families. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 26(2), 603–611. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-016-0576-5

Baker, J. K., Fenning, R. M., & Crnic, K. A. (2011). Emotion socialization by mothers and fathers: Coherence among behaviors and associations with parent attitudes and children's social competence. Social Development, 20(2), 412-430. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9507.2010.00585.x

Barnett, M. A., Gustafsson, H., Deng, M., Mills‐Koonce, W. R., & Cox, M. (2012). Bidirectional associations among sensitive parenting, language development, and social competence. Infant and Child Development, 21(4), 374-393. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/icd.1750

Baumrind, D. (1978). Parental disciplinary patterns and social competence in children. Youth & Society, 9(3), 239-267. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0044118X7800900302

Bigner, J. J. & Gerhardt, C. (2019). Parent-child relations: An introduction to parenting (10th ed.). Pearson.

Brown, A. S., Holden, G. W., & Ashraf, R. (2018). Spank, slap, or hit? How labels alter perceptions of child discipline. Psychology of Violence, 8(1), 1–9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/vio0000080

Byrne, B. M. (2013). Structural equation modeling with AMOS: Basic concepts, applications, and programming (2nd ed.). Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781410600219

Creavey, K. L., Gatzke-Kopp, L. M., & Fosco, G. M. (2018). Differential effects of family stress exposure and harsh parental discipline on child social competence. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 27(2), 483-493. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-017-0913-3

Deater-Deckard, K., & Dodge, K. A. (1997). Externalizing behavior problems and discipline revisited: Nonlinear effects and variation by culture, context, and gender. Psychological Inquiry, 8(3), 161–175. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327965pli0803_1

Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., McClaskey, C. L., Brown, M. M., & Gottman, J. M. (1986). Social Competence in Children. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 51(2), i–85. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/1165906

Flynn, C. P. (1998). To spank or not to spank: The effect of situation and age of child on support for corporal punishment. Journal of Family Violence, 13(1), 21-37. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1022808716048

George, D., & Mallery, P. (2019). IBM SPSS statistics 26 step by step: A simple guide and reference. Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429056765

Gershoff, E. T., & Grogan-Kaylor, A. (2016). Spanking and child outcomes: Old controversies and new meta-analyses. Journal of Family Psychology, 30(4), 453–469. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/fam0000191

Gershoff E. T., Sattler, K. M. P., & Ansari, A. (2018a). Strengthening causal estimates for links between spanking and children’s externalizing behavior problems. Psychological Science, 29(1), 110–120. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797617729816

Gershoff, E. T., Goodman, G. S., Miller-Perrin, C. L., Holden, G. W., Jackson, Y., & Kazdin, A. E. (2018b). The strength of the causal evidence against physical punishment of children and its implications for parents, psychologists, and policymakers. American Psychologist, 73(5), 626-638. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/amp0000327

Gonzalez, M., Ateah, C. A., Durrant, J. E., & Feldgaier, S. (2019). The impact of the Triple P seminar series on Canadian parents’ use of physical punishment, non-physical punishment and non-punitive responses. Behaviour Change, 36(2), 102-120. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/bec.2019.7

Greenfield, D. B., Wasserstein, S. B., Gold, S., & Jorden, B. (1997). The adaptive social behavior inventory (ASBI): Evaluation with high-risk preschoolers. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 15(4), 322-333. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/073428299701500404

Heilmann, A., Mehay, A., Watt, R. G., Kelly, Y., Durrant, J. E., van Turnhout, J., & Gershoff, E. T. (2021). Physical punishment and child outcomes: A narrative review of prospective studies. The Lancet, 398(10297), 355-364. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00582-1

Hogan, A. E., Scott, K. G., & Bauer, C. R. (1992). The Adaptive Social Behavior Inventory (ASBI): A new assessment of social competence in high-risk three-year-olds. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 10(3), 230-239. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/073428299201000303

Huber, L., Plötner, M., & Schmitz, J. (2019). Social competence and psychopathology in early childhood: A systematic review. European child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 28(4), 443-459. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-018-1152-x

Jeon, S., & Neppl, T. K. (2019). Economic pressure, parent positivity, positive parenting, and child social competence. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 28(5), 1402-1412. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-019-01372-1

Kotchick, B. A., & Forehand, R. (2002). Putting parenting in perspective: A discussion of the contextual factors that shape parenting practices. Journal of child and family studies, 11(3), 255-269. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1016863921662

Lansford, J. E., Deater‐Deckard, K., Dodge, K. A., Bates, J. E., & Pettit, G. S. (2004). Ethnic differences in the link between physical discipline and later adolescent externalizing behaviors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45(4), 801-812. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2004.00273.x

LeCuyer, E. A., Christensen, J. J., Kearney, M. H., & Kitzman, H. J. (2011). African American mothers' self-described discipline strategies with young children. Issues in Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing, 34(3), 144-162. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3109/01460862.2011.596457

Ma, J., Han, Y., & Kang, H. R. (2022). Physical punishment, physical abuse, and child behavior problems in South Korea. Child Abuse & Neglect, 123, 105385. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2021.105385

Maccoby, E.E., & Martin, J.A. (1983). Socialization in the context of the family: Parent–child interaction. In P. Mussen, & E. M. Hetherington (Eds.), Handbook of Child Psychology: Vol. IV. Socialization, personality, and social development, (4th ed., pp.1-101). Wiley.

Marshall, I. H., Wills, C., & Marshall, C. E. (2021). Parents who hit, troubled families, and children’s happiness: Do gender and National context make a difference?. In Crime Prevention and Justice in 2030 (pp. 199-230). Springer. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-56227-4_10

McLoyd, V. C., & Smith, J. (2002). Physical discipline and behavior problems in African American, European American, and Hispanic children: Emotional support as a moderator. Journal of Marriage and Family, 64(1), 40-53. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2002.00040.x

Mirabile, S. P., Oertwig, D., & Halberstadt, A. G. (2018). Parent emotion socialization and children's socioemotional adjustment: When is supportiveness no longer supportive?. Social Development, 27(3), 466-481. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/sode.12226

Piko, B. F., & Balázs, M. Á. (2012). Authoritative parenting style and adolescent smoking and drinking. Addictive Behaviors, 37(3), 353-356. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2011.11.022

Reichman, N. E., Teitler, J. O., Garfinkel, I., & McLanahan, S. S. (2001). Fragile families: Sample and design. Children and Youth Services Review, 23(4-5), 303-326. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0190-7409(01)00141-4

Rose‐Krasnor, L. (1997). The nature of social competence: A theoretical review. Social Development, 6(1), 111-135. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9507.00029

Simons, D. A., & Wurtele, S. K. (2010). Relationships between parents’ use of corporal punishment and their children's endorsement of spanking and hitting other children. Child Abuse & Neglect, 34(9), 639-646. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2010.01.012

Simons, L. G., Simons, R. L., & Su, X. (2013). Consequences of corporal punishment among African Americans: The importance of context and outcome. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42(8), 1273-1285. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-012-9853-9

Spruijt, A. M., Dekker, M. C., Ziermans, T. B., & Swaab, H. (2019). Linking parenting and social competence in school-aged boys and girls: Differential socialization, diathesis-stress, or differential susceptibility?. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 2789. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02789

Straus, M. A., & Donnelly, D. A. (2017). Beating the devil out of them: Corporal punishment in American families and its effects on children. (2nd ed.) Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351314688

Straus, M. A., Hamby, S. L., Finkelhor, D., Moore, D. W., & Runyan, D. (1998). Identification of child maltreatment with the Parent-Child Conflict Tactics Scales: Development and psychometric data for a national sample of American parents. Child Abuse & Neglect, 22(4), 249-270. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0145-2134(97)00174-9

Tompkins, V., & Villaruel, E. (2022). Parent discipline and pre-schoolers’ social skills. Early Child Development and Care,192(3), 410-424. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2020.1763978

Waldfogel, J., Craigie, T. A., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2010). Fragile families and child wellbeing. The Future of children/Center for the Future of Children, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, 20(2), 87-112. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/foc.2010.0002

Ward, K. P., Lee, S. J., Grogan-Kaylor, A. C., Ma, J., & Pace, G. T. (2022). Patterns of caregiver aggressive and nonaggressive discipline toward young children in low-and middle- income countries: A latent class approach. Child Abuse & Neglect, 128, 105606. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2022.105606

Wolf, S., & Suntheimer, N. M. (2020). Predictors of parental disciplinary practices and associations with child outcomes among Ghanaian preschoolers. Children and Youth Services Review, 112, 104518. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2019.104518

Xing, X., Zhang, L., Wei, Y., & Wang, Z. (2021). Parental harsh discipline and preschooler’s inhibitory control in China: Bidirectional relations and gender differences. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 36(17-18), NP9109–NP9129. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260519854558

Yildirim, E. D., Roopnarine, J. L., & Abolhassani, A. (2020). Maternal use of physical and non-physical forms of discipline and preschoolers’ social and literacy skills in 25 African countries. Child Abuse & Neglect, 106, 104513. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2020.104513

Yu, J., Cheah, C. S., Hart, C. H., & Yang, C. (2018). Child inhibitory control and maternal acculturation moderate effects of maternal parenting on Chinese American children’s adjustment. Developmental Psychology, 54(6), 1111-1123. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000517




How to Cite

Harris, K., Harris, C., & Dunkley, L. (2022). A longitudinal investigation of the effects of parental discipline strategies on social competence in early childhood . Journal of Childhood, Education & Society, 3(2), 168–176. https://doi.org/10.37291/2717638X.202232155