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Depression, Anger And Poor Coping Abilities Linked To Poor Parenting


Research recently conducted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found that, in general, parents underestimate the possible adverse effects that poor parenting is likely to have upon children (and, likewise, the extent of the positive impact of good parenting).

Examples of poor parenting include :

– inconsistent and unpredictable discipline

corporal (physical) punishment

– uncontrolled verbal aggression

– inadequate supervision (e.g. allowing inappropriately young children to roam the streets and mix with gangs late at night)

Possible Effects of Poor Parenting:

Examples of types of poor parenting which will increase the probability that the children in the family will develop anti-social behaviors such as vandalism, stealing, assault, fire-setting, etc. include :

domestic violence

– parental substance misuse (alcoholism/drug addiction)

maternal depression

verbal aggression

– too severe punishment (e.g. corporal/physical punishment)

parental constant criticism of the child

– parental extreme pessimism/negativity

Poor Coping Abilities/Lack of Resilience:

Studies have shown that parents who themselves are poor at coping with life’s problems and difficulties, or, in other words, have low resilience, tend to have children who develop similar problems when trying to cope with hardship, whether these hardships be of a physical, emotional, social or educational nature. Types of poor parenting that may contribute to a child developing low levels of resilience and a poor ability to cope with life include :

– parental inability to cope with change

– parental inability to cope with failure

– parental inflexibility/difficulty adapting

– parental inappropriate expression of negative feelings and emotions

– failure to teach/show the child coping skills

– failure to protect the child from damaging levels of stress (exposure to significant stress in childhood, over an extended period of time, can negatively affect brain development in such a way that it can make the child much less able to deal with stress once s/he becomes an adult – click here to read my article on how stress in childhood can adversely affect brain development).


Several studies have shown (e.g. Dallaire et al.) have demonstrated that poor parenting makes it more likely that the children in the family will suffer from symptoms of depression. Particular kinds of poor parenting which have been found to increase the child’s risk of developing depression include :

– the parent being generally negative and pessimistic

– parental use of corporal (physical) punishment of the child

– the parent emotionally neglecting the child (i.e. not providing the child with sufficient emotional support and nurturance)

Anger and Aggression:

Studies have shown that mothers who interact poorly with their young children (e.g. lack of tenderness, displays of frequent hostility towards the child, high levels of conflict with the child) tended to produce children who themselves developed a higher propensity to become angry when compared to children who had enjoyed a more functional relationship with their mother.

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

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