Parental Psychological Control

 Parenting aggression can take on different forms, such as physical aggression, verbal aggression, and psychological aggression (Straus, Hamby, Finkelhor, Moore, & Runyan, 1998), and one key form of psychological aggression which is understudied is psychological control. Parental psychological control refers to parental behaviors that are intrusive and manipulative, undermining child autonomy, and characterized by guilt induction, love withdrawal, instilling anxiety, and verbal constraint (Barber, 1996;Barber & Harmon, 2002;Schaefer, 1965). In guilt induction, parents coerce children into complying with parental demands by making children feel guilty. …
… Parental psychological control has been linked to various forms of child maladjustment, including lower self-esteem, internalizing symptoms, and externalizing symptoms (Barber, 1996;Barber, Olsen, & Shagle, 1994;Barber, Stolz, Olsen, Collins, & Burchinal, 2005). For example, parental psychological control predicted adolescent depression and antisocial behaviors even after controlling for parental support and behavioral control (Barber et al., 2005). …
… Children’s theory of mind does not develop until around 4 years old (Wellman, Cross, & Watson, 2001) and self-conscious emotions do not develop until around 2 years old (Muris & Meesters, 2014). This is consistent with previous research that documented the adverse effect of parental psychological control behaviors primarily in middle childhood and adolescence (Barber, 1996;Barber et al., 1994;Barber et al., 2005;Soenens & Vansteenkiste, 2010). Future research with larger samples should examine whether child age moderates the association between parental psychological control and child maladjustment. …

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