Parenting Affects Behavior of Early-Maturing Girls

August 6, 2008

Positive parenting behaviors may help reduce the risk of delinquency and aggression in early-maturing girls, according to a report published in the August issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Positive parenting behaviors may help reduce the risk of delinquency and aggression in early-maturing girls, according to a report published in the August issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Sylvie Mrug, Ph.D., of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues interviewed 330 ethnically diverse fifth-grade girls (mean age, 11.25 years) -- 25 percent of whom were classified as early maturers -- and their caregivers.

Overall, the researchers found that early maturation was associated with delinquency but not with aggression. But they found that early maturation was associated with relational aggression in families that had low levels of nurturance, low levels of open communication about sensitive topics, and low levels of knowledge of the child's activities and friends. They also found that early maturation predicted physical aggression only when combined with low maternal nurturance.

"The implications of these findings are twofold. First, although clinicians are generally encouraged to address communication, parental knowledge and monitoring, and nurturance with parents, they might want to be especially attentive to addressing it with parents of early-maturing girls. Second, families identified as having low levels of nurturance, knowledge and communication may benefit from education or counseling to help them improve their parenting skills and learn new strategies," the authors conclude. "Helping parents develop positive parenting skills may help early-maturing girls to grow into healthy, well-adjusted adolescents and adults."

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