Study Reveals Parenting Style May Cause Depression in Children
A University of Washington study published this week in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology found that effective mothering requires adjusting how you interact with your child based on their personality. The study suggests kids who are more impulsive and lack self-control need more aggressive parenting. Conversely, kids who have greater self-control and are responsible, but whose moms don’t give them autonomy, tend to show more signs of anxiety and depression.
The study included 214 mom-child pairs from Seattle elementary schools, and focused solely on mother-child interactions, which the authors acknowledge may limit the interpretation of results. Dads were not required to participate in the study, and many of the moms were single parents.
“Children in the study who had moms whose parenting style fit well with their temperament, had half as many symptoms of depression as those whose moms’ parenting style wasn’t a good fit,” says study co-author Liliana Lengua.
“You might want to step back and take a hard look at your children,” Lengua suggests. “Can they stop themselves from doing things on an impulse? Can they power through things they don’t want to do?” And do they refrain from saying the first thing that comes to mind when they’re upset?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then your child might benefit from a more relaxed parenting style. But if your child’s behavior shows a tendency towards weak impulse control and irresponsibility, they’re mental health may depend on your ability and willingness to wield your authority.
“It’s not that the parent is totally responsible for depression and anxiety,” Lengua says. “The good news for parents is there are things they can do to help reduce those symptoms.”