Harsh Parenting May Make Kids Antisocial According To Study Findings

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If we're being honest here, every set of parents have a different outlook on the way to raise and essentially, parent their kids. There are so many different arguments that take place in the parenting community that favors different methods and not others, and of course - nature versus nurture is always a popular discussion. Are children born with certain behaviors already a part of their genetic makeup? Or do all of their qualities come about due to the way they are raised? So many different opinions. A new study takes a closer look and is aiming to reveal that harsher parenting styles leads to kids being more antisocial in the long run.

The study was done by the University of Pennsylvania and really took a closer look at the caregiving environment that children are being raised in. We all know how important it is for children to grow up and have at least a little bit of a social side to help them grow to become well adjusted adults who can work well with others.

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Published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, this most recent study believes that less parental warmth and more harshness in the home environment affect how aggressive children become and whether they lack empathy and a moral compass, a set of characteristics known as callous-unemotional (CU) traits.

They came to these conclusions by examining 227 different pairs of identical twin pairs. Lead by Penn psychologist Rebecca Waller, the research focused on finding small differences in the parenting that each twin experienced to determine whether these differences could predict the likelihood of antisocial behaviors. They learned that the twin who experienced stricter or harsher treatment and less emotional warmth from parents had a greater chance of showing aggression and these CU traits.

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"The study convincingly shows that parenting -- and not just genes -- contributes to the development of risky callous-unemotional traits," says Hyde, an associate professor in Michigan's Department of Psychology. "Because identical twins have the same DNA, we can be more sure that the differences in parenting the twins received affects the development of these traits."

Once these findings were well documented, Waller revealed that their goal is essentially to turn their findings into practical interventions that parents can use to help children improve different behaviors or from developing certain traits.

While there are still hurdles to overcome within the study (i.e. it pertains more to households with two children versus one child), it is still a great starting point for a much larger understanding. They shared that the good news is that they now are aware of different treatments that can help children from developing these behaviors.

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