Predictors of positive and negative parenting behaviours: evidence from the ALSPAC cohort

Rachel M Thomson, Clare S. Allely, David Purves, Christine Puckering, Alex McConnachie, Paul C. D. Johnson, Jean Golding, Christopher Gillberg, Philip Wilson

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32 Citations (Scopus)
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This study aimed to establish the predictors of positive and negative parenting behaviours in a United Kingdom population. The majority of previous research has focused on specific risk factors and has used a variety of outcome measures. This study used a single assessment of parenting behaviours and started with a wide range of potential pre- and post-natal variables; such an approach might be used to identify families who might benefit from parenting interventions.

Using a case-control subsample of 160 subjects from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), regression analysis was undertaken to model parenting behaviours at 12 months as measured by the Mellow Parenting Observational System.

Positive parenting increased with maternal age at delivery, levels of education and with prenatal anxiety. More negative interactions were observed among younger mothers, mothers with male infants, with prenatal non-smokers and among mothers who perceived they had a poor support structure.

This study indicates two factors which may be important in identifying families most at risk of negative parenting: younger maternal age at delivery and lack of social support during pregnancy. Such factors could be taken into account when planning provision of services such as parenting interventions. We also established that male children were significantly more likely to be negatively parented, a novel finding which may suggest an area for future research. However the findings have to be accepted cautiously and have to be replicated, as the measures used do not have established psychometric validity and reliability data.
Original languageEnglish
Article number247
JournalBMC Pediatrics
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2014


  • parent-infant interactions
  • positive parenting
  • negative parenting
  • mellow parenting system


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