Parenting knowledge and its role in the prediction of dysfunctional parenting and disruptive child behaviour

Child Care Health Dev. 2009 Mar;35(2):217-26. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2008.00929.x. Epub 2009 Jan 8.


Background: There is a paucity of research on the relationship between parental knowledge, parenting and parenting self-efficacy, and some inconsistencies have been reported in the literature.

Method: Parent knowledge of effective parenting strategies was assessed among 68 parents from a non-clinic sample, who also completed questionnaires relating to parenting confidence, quality of parenting and child behaviour.

Results: Parents with greater knowledge tended to be less dysfunctional, and reported significantly higher education and income levels. Parenting confidence explained a significant proportion of the variance in reported frequency of disruptive child behaviour while knowledge did not independently contribute to the prediction. However, the relationship between parenting confidence and dysfunctional parenting was moderated by the level of knowledge. There was a stronger negative relationship between confidence and dysfunctional parenting when knowledge level was low than when it was high. Post hoc analyses indicated that the relationship between parenting knowledge and disruptive child behaviour was moderated by the level of parenting dysfunction. Parenting knowledge and reported frequency of disruptive behaviour were positively related when the level of dysfunction was low, but were unrelated when it was high.

Conclusions: Parents with low levels of knowledge and confidence in their parenting may be at greater risk of dysfunctional parenting and might benefit from interventions designed to enhance both knowledge and confidence. Results are interpreted in relation to inconsistencies with previous research and implications for future methodologies.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Child Rearing / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Role
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires