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Parental attitudes and how they affect the behaviour of children : a study of Provincial Child Guidance Clinic cases Trasov, George Edward

Abstract

The purpose of this study is threefold: (1) to analyze information available in the records regarding the manifestations of behaviour disorders in the children and the background of the parents, (2) to make a tentative diagnosis of the relationships of the parents to their children, and (3) to examine the degree of correlation existing between the parents' attitudes and the child manifesting the behaviour problem. This is, therefore, an exploratory study on the familiar topic of parental attitudes and how they affect the behaviour of children. The selection of cases for study (40 in number) were all those accepted for treatment by the Provincial Child Guidance Clinic in an 18 month period, 1948-49. The children were either of pre-school age or their problems manifested themselves before they entered school. Certain limitations were set up. All the children were of at least normal intelligence, all came from homes where there was a normal family constellation, i.e., both parents were alive and living at home. No distinction was made between sexes, ordinal position of the child in the family, religion and nationality, and economic status. These cases were classified into three groups on the basis of "problems" of symptoms of maladjustment which led the parents to seek the services of the Provincial Child Guidance Clinic. The classification adopted distinguished (1) disturbances of social adaptation, (2) habit disorders, and (3) personality disorders. The emphasis of this study is based on the hypothesis that parental attitudes influence the behaviour of children. It seemed logical, therefore, to focus specific attention on attitudes reflected and expressed by the parent in the case work situation. The sample of cases included parents exhibiting rejecting, dominating and other deviant attitudes. — The greatest number of children in this group of clinical cases were those who were affected by the combined attitudes of mother and father. The deviant trait was the predominating parental inadequacy contributing to the behaviour problem. Next in importance were the attitudes expressed by the mothers, rejection being the outstanding trait. Fathers, on the whole, affected a smaller number of children than the mothers. In this group domination was the main contributing defect. Regardless of the adequacy of one parent, if the other parent failed to fulfil the parental role, the failings were reflected in the behaviour of the child. Though parental attitudes influenced the behaviour of all the children, different children reacted differently and in varying degrees to similar experiences. The behaviour manifestation appeared to show itself in a manner peculiar to the make-up of the particular child.

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