Home > Parents’ perspectives on parenting styles and disciplining children.

Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. Halpenny, Ann Marie and Nixon, Elizabeth and Watson, Dorothy (2010) Parents’ perspectives on parenting styles and disciplining children. Dublin: Stationery Office.

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Study overview
Families represent the primary setting in which most children’s lives are shaped and determined. Central to the process of the socialisation of children are the parenting behaviours and discipline responses which children experience within family settings. Within these family contexts, children gradually internalise social standards and expectations, which facilitate, in turn, greater selfregulation skills and responsibility. Knowledge of the range of disciplinary tactics used by parents and of parental beliefs and attitudes to discipline strategies is, therefore, essential in order to promote and support effective and constructive parental discipline responses with children and young people.

The present study sought to investigate the parenting styles and parental use of disciplinary strategies with children in Ireland, with a particular focus on attitudes to and uses of physical punishment. A further aim of the research was to identify parental attitudes to the legislative position in relation to physical punishment and children. The study adopted a telephone survey methodology, involving interviews with 1,353 women and men, with at least one child younger than 18 years of age, living in private households.

Specifically, the following questions were addressed:
• What parenting goals and expectations for their children do parents in Ireland have today?
• What are parents’ perspectives on Irish society as a context for parenting and what pressures do parents experience?
• What parenting styles and discipline strategies do parents use? To what extent do parents use physical punishment as a method of discipline?
• Under what circumstances do parents employ certain approaches to discipline?
• What are parents’ attitudes towards physical punishment?
• Are parents aware of the current legislative position on physical punishment?
• What are parents’ perspectives on potential legislative change?
• How do child-rearing goals, parenting styles and approaches to discipline and attitudes towards physical punishment vary according to the age, gender and social class of parents and children?

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