OTTAWA (CP) — Children raised by punitive parents are more likely to exhibit aggressive behaviour, a Statistics Canada study indicates.
However, if parents backed off their aggressive style as the child aged, their children were not more aggressive than other children when they got older.
The study reports data provided by parents of about 2,000 children who were two to three years old in 1994 and eight to nine in 2000, the agency said Monday.
The study also found that if parents changed from being non-punitive to punitive as the child aged, "aggressive behaviour scores that were just as high as those whose parenting environment was punitive at both ages."
The study says "children aged two to three years who were living in punitive environments in 1994 scored 39 per cent higher on a scale of aggressive behaviours, such as bullying or being mean to others, than did those in less punitive environments.
"The difference was even more pronounced six years later in 2000, when the children were eight to nine years old. Those who lived in punitive homes scored 83 per cent higher on the aggressive behaviour scale than those in less punitive homes."
However, "both at age two to three and also at age eight to nine, children raised in a non-punitive parenting environment were much less likely than others to exhibit aggressive behaviour, according to their parents."
The study does not prove that punitive parenting causes aggressive behaviour in children, the agency said.
"However, it does reinforce earlier research and theory which have proposed that punitive parenting styles may lead to increased aggressive behaviour in children." Aggressive behaviour in children is of interest because of its implications. "Researchers have found links between aggression in childhood and poor outcomes later in life," the agency said.
"These outcomes may include aggression, delinquency, and crime in adolescence and adulthood; poor school results; unemployment in adulthood; and other negative circumstances." Aggressive behaviour was linked to parenting style, regardless of sex or household income.
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