A longitudinal study of the role of children's altruism and forgiveness in the relation between parental aggressive discipline and anxiety of preschoolers in China.Child Abuse Negl. 2017 Mar; 65:236-247.CA
Using data collected over a 1-year period on a stratified random sample of 368 parents with children studying in nurseries (mean age=3.97years), this study assessed the predictive effects of parental corporal punishment, parental psychological aggression, preschoolers' altruism, and preschoolers' forgiveness on preschoolers' anxiety symptoms in Hong Kong, China. Results of hierarchical regression analyses showed that parental psychological aggression, preschoolers' altruism and preschoolers' forgiveness at Time 1 significantly predicted preschoolers' anxiety at Time 2, when controlling for the initial level of preschoolers' anxiety and important demographic variables that co-vary with preschoolers' anxiety. Moreover, preschoolers' altruism moderated the predictive effect of parental psychological aggression on preschoolers' anxiety symptoms. The study has several significant contributions. First, the study supports the predictive effect of parental aggressive discipline on preschoolers' anxiety. Second, we provide evidence that preschoolers' altruism and forgiveness negatively predict preschoolers' anxiety symptoms. Third, preschoolers' altruism and forgiveness are shown to protect them against parental psychological aggression. A dual-focus approach to intervention and prevention is proposed to reduce aggressive discipline by parents as well as to enhance altruism and forgiveness in children. Parent training programs could be provided to teach parents positive discipline strategies. Home-based or school-based interventions could be designed for preschool children to foster and enhance their altruism and forgiveness.