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Relations between maternal parenting styles and callous-unemotional behavior in Chinese children: A longitudinal study.

BACKGROUND: Previous studies on maternal parenting styles and children's callous-unemotional behavior (CU behavior) have focused on the West, and few studies have examined the longitudinal relationship between maternal parenting styles and CU behavior using Chinese preschoolers as subjects.

OBJECTIVE: Through a 1.5-year longitudinal lens, this study probed the relations between maternal parenting styles and CU behavior in the Chinese cultural setting.

PARTICIPANTS: Participants were N = 492 Chinese young children (Mage = 52.44 months, SD = 5.00, 48 % girls).

METHODS: At Time 1 (T1), mothers reported their use of authoritative parenting styles (i.e., warmth, reasoning, and autonomy), authoritarian parenting styles (i.e., physical coercion, verbal hostility, and nonreasoning) and children's CU behavior. At Time 2 (T2; approximately 1.5 years later), mothers again reported the above variables.

RESULTS: Cross-lagged models indicated that maternal warmth, reasoning, autonomy, and nonreasoning at T1 predicted CU behavior at T2. However, not only did maternal physical coercion and verbal hostility at T1 predict CU behavior at T2, but CU behavior at T1 also predicted maternal physical coercion and verbal hostility at T2. Additionally, there were no gender differences in the relationship between dimensions of maternal parenting styles and CU behavior.

CONCLUSIONS: It underscores the influence of authoritative parenting in potentially mitigating CU behavior, while authoritarian approaches may exacerbate CU behavior. The absence of gender differences suggests these dynamics are broadly applicable across genders. These findings have significant implications for parenting strategies aimed at addressing CU behavior in children, emphasizing the need for warmth, reasoning, and autonomy in parenting practices.

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