Parent Involvement and Conduct Disorder among Genders

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08/02/20 Psychology Reference this

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This research paper is going to examine the relationship between parent involvement and conduct disorder among genders.  The research question is: How is parent involvement related to conduct disorders in male versus females?  The hypothesis statement is: Male and female children whose parents are involved are less likely to develop conduct disorders, compared to males and females whose parents are uninvolved. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (March, 2018), states that conduct disorder is present among 3.5% of children in the U.S aged 3 to 17 years old.  Furthermore, (October, 2013) states that conduct disorder is more common in boys than in girls.  In addition, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (October, 2015), emphasizes how conduct disorder is almost always comorbid with another disorder called oppositional defiant disorder.  Why might these children develop conduct disorders?  Well, according to (2018), some risk factors include lack of parental involvement, abuse, inconsistent parenting, and/or peer rejection. Therefore, it is important to identify this disorder in early childhood and in adolescence, to aid the child with resources and give them the help they deserve. 

Theoretical Framework

According to Urie Bronfenbrenner Ecological Theory, the child is involved in environmental systems that interact with each other and with the person, while having a direct and indirect influence on the individual (Shaffner, 2008).  Moreover, this is an environmentalist perspective, as the theory states that these (five) systems interact with one another and make up the individual’s environment, which has an effect on the individual (directly and indirectly).  The Ecological Theory will be used to examine the direct relationship between parent involvement and conduct disorders in boys and girls.  For example, if the parents are uninvolved in their children’s immediate life (microsystem), then their children may likely exhibit conduct/behavioral problems because of the lack of attention they receive or witness. 

The Microsystem is the innermost layer, and it includes the individual’s immediate family or guardians (2008).  In addition, the relationship between two people in the microsystem, such as a wife and husband, have an effect on the relationship between the mother and her child.  For example, a mother who has a cooperative, loving, and supporting relationship with the father, will have a positive relationship between the mother and their child.  Therefore, if the relationship between two parents is nonexistent, negative, or abusive, the child will not have a good microsystem in which they can thrive in and develop appropriately. 

Another important system that influences the child’s development is the Exosystem.  This third layer consists of things children are not directly a part of, but nonetheless has an impact upon their development.  A crucial influence of the Exosystem is the child’s parents’ work environment.  Work can be stressful and can take a toll on the parent’s emotions.  These emotions towards work may transfer to the home environment (microsystem), which will affect the relationship or connection with the parent and child.  For example, a mother who works over-time at her stressful job, comes home late at night, and is always in a bad or depressive mood, can affect the child’s emotions forcing them to seek attention elsewhere, therefore conduct problems may arise outside of the home. 

Literature Review

Parent Involvement

What defines parent involvement?  Parent involvement is made up of several behaviors and attitudes.  According to Desforges and Abouchaar (2003), parental involvement means proving stability and safe environment, having conversations, being a positive role model, encouraging personal fulfillment, while being accepting.  Outside of the home, parent involvement means keeping contact with the school, participate in child’s events, and monitor the child’s school environment (2003). 

In addition, parent involvement includes reading to the child, talking about their day, making sure they have good school attendance, and having a high expectation of their academic achievements (Jeynes, 2005).  All these terms considered, parent involvement is not practicing one specific aspect, but rather using many practices to enhance the child’s development and guide the child appropriately.

Conduct Disorder

According to the American Psychiatric Assosiation conduct disorder is DSM-5 diagnosis defined as a behavior that violates the rights of others or is different than societal norms.  These behaviors must be present for a minimum of three months.  Usually, children are diagnosed with this disorder before 18 years of age.  To be diagnosed, the symptoms must impede social, emotional, academic, and occupational functioning.  In addition, individuals have limited prosocial behaviors and lack empathy and guilt. 

 Furthermore, the DSM-5 provides a specific criterion for symptoms based on age.  Individuals with conduct disorder are often bullies other peers, initiates physical fights, and deliberately lies to others.  The individual may run away from home, not attend school, or go out late without permission, all before 13 years of age (Loeber, Burke, Lahey, Winters, & Zera, 2000).  In addition, the individual usually physically harms animals and people.  They are usually breaking into homes, stealing property, and vandalizing.  These characteristics must be present for a minimum of three months and diagnosed by a psychologist or licensed professional.  However, according to Zoccolillo (1993), the DSM-5 criterion is not appropriate for girls.  This is because girls with conduct disorders do not normally overtly disrupt or engage in delinquency.  Rather, the criterion is different in a way that girls engage in more internalized deviant behavior or covert delinquency. 

Parent Involvement and Conduct Disorders: Gender 

The purpose of this research paper is to examine the relationship between parent involvement and conduct disorder in boys and girls.  In addition, the research question is: What is the correlation between parent involvement and conduct disorder in girls versus boys? 

According to Loeber, Burke, and Pardi (2009), childhood onset of conduct disorder has been linked to parental antisocial behavior, lack of supervision and education, for both girls and boys.  These are strong risk factors for conduct disorder in children.  Lack of education from the parent may jeopardize the development of child.  In addition, Burke, Loeber, and Birmaher (2004), harsh or abusive parenting behaviors such as sexual or physical abuse, increase the risk of conduct disorder in children.  In addition, the study states that boys are less likely to internalize their problems but are still at a greater risk than girls to reveal conduct problems.  To add on, girls are more likely to commit non-violent, covert forms of delinquency such as shoplifting and fraud.  On the other hand, boys are more likely to commit violent, overt form of crimes such as physical fights and robberies (Loeber, Burke, Lahey, Winters, & Zera, 2000).  Therefore, parent involvement plays an important role in caring for the child and providing a safe environment fort the child, so that children do not develop conduct disorders. 

 Interestingly, Hudson and Rapee (2001), conducted a study that examined the parent-child interactions, while observing the child complete a difficult task.  The participants were clinically anxious children, oppositional defiant children, and non-clinical children.  The results proved that mothers of children (both boys and girls) who are anxious and have oppositional defiant disorders demonstrate more intrusive involvement rather than the mothers of non-clinical children.  In addition, they also found that the mothers of anxious and oppositional defiant children expressed negativity during the interactions, as opposed to the mothers of non-clinical children.  This demonstrates that overly involved parents can affect the child’s learning ability and development.  It’s important to understand and allow children to explore, while still guiding them towards the right path.

 In a longitudinal study that observed parent involvement in specific age groups of children with conduct problems, parent behaviors changed and differed significantly according to how severe the child’s symptoms became (Kim, Ge, Brody, Conger, Gibson, & Simons, 2003).  There was found a positive correlation between increasing severity of symptom and parent hostility behaviors.  For example, when observing parent behaviors, in relation to the child’s symptoms, children with an increasing of symptoms severity reported more hostile and inconsistent parenting.  In addition, there was less nurture, and warmth parenting (2003).  This is unfortunate because the child should have a strong supportive microsystem when they are going through a difficult time.  The study did not show the differences in parent involvement of a girl versus boy, rather proved the parent’s behavior to be the same regardless of gender. 

 As one can see too much involvement is detrimental, but the right amount is needed to help the child succeed and encourage positive development.  According to Shaffner (2008), both boys and girls need social support from their peers and parents to become socially adjusted individuals.  Children whose parents are uninvolved or unsupportive are at greater risk for externalizing negative behaviors and may develop emotional disorders.  As a reminder, the definition of conduct disorder according American Psychiatric Association is a behavior that violates the rights of others or is different than societal norms.  This is why support and parent involvement are important for the developing child.

 According to Webster-Stratton (1996), a study observed girls and boys aged 4-7 diagnosed with conduct disorder, in their home environment.  Parenting behaviors and involvement were observed while analyzing the differences in behavioral problems in both genders.  The results indicated there were no specific risk factors for children. The only gender-specific risk factor that was found was the at-home negativity of the father was correlated with the externalizing behavior of boys but not for girls.  Therefore, the parents psychological state is important in predicting conduct disorder.  

 Steiner and Remsing (2007), explain how negative parent-child attachment such as insecure-avoidant attachment, may create a pathway for conduct disorder for the child, regardless of gender.  Mary Ainsworth’s Strange Situation (1979) measures children’s attachment to their parent, by observing the departure and reunion experiment.  Ainsworth found that mothers of insecure-avoidant infants were impatient, unresponsive, and self-centered (Shaffner, 2008).  Why is this important for children’s later development?  Well, infants who had an insecure-avoidant attachment are at risk for later development of hostility, aggressive, and antisocial behaviors in preschool and elementary school (2008).  It is evident that parents involvement in forming a secure attachment with their child is crucial for the child’s prosocial and positive relationships in the future. 


 The purpose of this paper was to examine the relationship between parent involvement and conduct disorder among genders.  The research question was: How is parent involvement related to conduct disorders in male versus females?  We have examined the risk factors of conduct disorder among both genders and found that there is no difference.  In addition, we studied the correlation between parent involvement and conduct disorder among genders.  It is evident that parent involvement and conduct disorder has no significant difference among gender, as both genders are affected equally.  However, the conduct disorder exhibited in both genders differs as boys demonstrate more overt behavior problems and delinquency as opposed to girls who internalize their behavior and commit more covert delinquencies.  Moreover, there are many risk factors that lead to conduct disorder in children, therefore its important as a parent, to be involved and educated to help the children in building a positive self-development.  References

  5. Shaffer, D. R. (2008). Social and Personality Development, 6th edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 
 Cengage Learning.
  6. Desforges, C., & Abouchaar, A. (2003). The impact of parental involvement, parental support and family education on pupil achievement and adjustment: A literature review (Vol. 433). Nottingham: DfES publications.
  7. Jeynes, W. H. (2005). A meta-analysis of the relation of parental involvement to urban elementary school student academic achievement. Urban education40(3), 237-269.
  8. Loeber, R., Burke, J. D., Lahey, B. B., Winters, A., & Zera, M. (2000). Oppositional defiant and conduct disorder: a review of the past 10 years, part I. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry39(12), 1468-1484.
  9. Burke, J. D., Loeber, R., & Birmaher, B. (2004). Oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder: a review of the past 10 years, part II. Focus41(4), 1275-576.
  10. Hudson, J. L., & Rapee, R. M. (2001). Parent–child interactions and anxiety disorders: An observational study. Behaviour research and therapy39(12), 1411-1427.
  11. Kim, I. J., Ge, X., Brody, G. H., Conger, R. D., Gibbons, F. X., & Simons, R. L. (2003). Parenting behaviors and the occurrence and co-occurrence of depressive symptoms and conduct problems among African American children. Journal of Family Psychology17(4), 571.
  12. Zoccolillo, M. (1993). Gender and the development of conduct disorder. Development and Psychopathology, 5(1-2), 65-78. doi:10.1017/S0954579400004260
  13. Webster-Stratton, C. (1996). Early-onset conduct problems: Does gender make a difference?. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology64(3), 540.
  14. Loeber, R., Burke, J., & Pardini, D. A. (2009). Perspectives on oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, and psychopathic features. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry50(1‐2), 133-142.
  15. Steiner, H., & Remsing, L. (2007). Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with oppositional defiant disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry46(1), 126-141.
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