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Publication - Dr Rebecca Pearson

    Disciplinary Parenting Practice and Child Mental Health

    Evidence From the UK Millennium Cohort Study


    Rajyaguru, P, Moran, P, Cordero, M & Pearson, R, 2019, ‘Disciplinary Parenting Practice and Child Mental Health: Evidence From the UK Millennium Cohort Study’. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, vol 58., pp. 108-116.e2


    Objective: To investigate whether a longitudinal association exists between differential
    disciplinary parenting practices at age 3 and later child psychopathology at age 11.
    Methods: Data were obtained from the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), a UK wide cohort.
    Discipline style was assessed using a validated maternal reported questionnaire at age 3, for
    which later outcome data were available. We distinguished between ‘active’ (including
    smacking, shouting and telling off) and ‘withdrawal’ approaches (including ignoring, removal of
    privileges and sending to bedroom). Child emotional and behavioral problems were assessed
    at age 3 and 11 using the maternally completed Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ).
    The independence of associations between early discipline and later child mental health were
    investigated using mutually adjusted regression analyses and potential reverse causality was
    considered by looking at changes between SDQ subscale scores from age 3 to 11.
    Results: Differential associations with change in child psychopathology according to discipline
    type was observed. Both active and withdrawal discipline were associated with a reduction in
    conduct problems from ages 3 to 11 (active beta cf -0.28, 95% CI -0.34 to -0.21, p<0.001 and
    withdrawal beta cf -0.19 95% CI -0.24 to -014, p<0.001). However, active approaches were
    also associated with an increase in emotional problems (beta cf 0.07 95% CI 0.00 to 0.14,
    p=0.03); not observed for withdrawal approaches.
    Conclusions: Different approaches to discipline appear to have differential associations with
    later child mental health. Further research accounting for a greater number of parent and child
    characteristics is needed to assess whether such associations are causal.

    Full details in the University publications repository