Harsh parenting may increase a child’s risk for poor physical health and BMI increase later in life, a recent study reports.
To assess parenting behaviour, the researchers videotaped 451 two-parent families in several different structured interaction tasks over the course of several years – from early adolescence (12 years old) to young adulthood (20 years old). Harsh parenting was scored on four domains: hostility, coercion, antisocial behavior and physical aggressiveness.
Adolescents who experienced harshness from either parent showed significant decreases in physical health and significant increases in BMI. These differences were not evident at the beginning of adolescence but became evident over time and persisted into young adulthood; suggesting that the associations between parent harshness and adolescent health are not due to preexisting differences. In addition, these results persisted even after most adolescents had moved out of their parents home.