Bidirectional effects between parenting and aggressive child behavior in the context of a preventive intervention
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology , Volume 45 - Issue 5 p. 921- 934
Over time, developmental theories and empirical studies have gradually started to adopt a bidirectional viewpoint. The area of intervention research is, however, lagging behind in this respect. This longitudinal study examined whether bidirectional associations between (changes in) parenting and (changes in) aggressive child behavior over time differed in three conditions: a child intervention condition, a child + parent intervention condition and a control condition. Participants were 267 children (74 % boys, 26 % girls) with elevated levels of aggression, their mothers and their teachers. Reactive aggression, proactive aggression and perceived parenting were measured at four measurement times from pretest to one-year after intervention termination. Results showed that associations between aggressive child behavior and perceived parenting are different in an intervention context, compared to a general developmental context. Aggressive behavior and perceived parenting were unrelated over time for children who did not receive an intervention. In an intervention context, however, decreases in aggressive child behavior were related to increases in perceived positive parenting and decreases in perceived overreactivity. These findings underscore the importance of addressing child-driven processes in interventions aimed at children, but also in interventions aimed at both children and their parents.