Parent child interactions in physically abusive families
Edwards, Anna Margaret
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This project investigated family problem solving and interactive processes in 31 physically abusive parent-child dyads and 31 control dyads. Parents and their children completed a family problem-solving interaction task. Behaviors related to family problem solving were coded for each parent and child. Specific behaviors coded for the parent included problem solving behavior, supportive behavior, aversive behavior, and unproductive problem talk. Specific behaviors coded for the child included problem solving behavior, cooperative behavior, oppositional behavior, and withdrawal behavior. Analyses evaluated group differences on each of these variables. In addition, sequential analyses were conducted to examine sequential associations between specific parent and child behaviors within interactions. Findings indicated that physically abusive parents exhibited fewer problem solving skills and less nonverbal support behavior than control parents. Further, physically abused children demonstrated less nonverbal cooperative behavior than control children. In regard to the sequential analyses, none of the predicted associations between parent and child behaviors were found; however, exploratory analyses indicated other significant relations. Findings are discussed from a developmental psychopathology approach, emphasizing the importance of parent-child interactions in children’s social and psychological development.