Summer 1985 // Volume 23 // Number 2 // Research in Brief // 2RIB1

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Parenting Skills


Dorothea Cudaback
Human Relations Specialist
Cooperative Extension
University of California-Berkeley

"Child Development Knowledge and Parenting Skills. " Joseph H. Stevens, Jr. Family Relations, XXXIII (April, 1984), 237-44.

Those of us involved in Cooperative Extension parent education need to know what kinds of information-if any-will help parents improve their ability to nurture and teach their children. This study partly addresses this question and tries to determine whether a mother's knowledge of child development and parenting practices affects her parenting skills. The subjects were 233 mothers of infants and young children, 15 months to 30 months old. The mothers were all from southern urban areas. Two-thirds were Black, one-third White. Eighty-nine percent reported poverty level incomes.

Investigators determined the mother's knowledge of child development and her understanding of parental and environmental influences on this development using: (1) the Knowledge of Environmental Influences on Development Scale and (2) a shortened version of the High Scope Knowledge of Early Infant Development Scale. Researchers assessed the mother's parenting skills through use of the well-tested interview/observation scale, "Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment."

The results of this research showed that parents varied in their knowledge of child development and in their understanding of the ways they as mothers could affect this development. Mothers who scored highest on these knowledge tests tended to have better parenting skills. Certain kinds of knowledge were predictive of good parenting: parents' awareness of the power of play materials in helping children learn, the value of parental teaching, the importance of monitoring infant's health, and the awareness of parenting behaviors that promote language development.

The results of this study support the need for educational programs for at least some new parents and indicate there's certain key information we should include for these parents.