Chinese parents were reported to exercise a higher level of parental control. To understand how this could affect students’ achievement, an article published in the Journal of School Psychology examined the relationship between harsh parenting and adolescent academic achievement, as well as how effortful control and classroom engagement mediated the effects of harsh parenting. The research also investigated how boys and girls were differently affected.
Mingzhong Wang and colleagues surveyed 815 students in sixth through eighth grade from two public junior high schools located in rural areas of Eastern China, as well as their parents. Students’ academic achievement was measured by a standardised score obtained from test scores in Chinese language, English language and Math combined with two teacher-rated items. Harsh parenting, effortful control and classroom engagement were measured by items used in prior research and were validated.
The findings showed that:
- Harsh parenting has negative direct effects on academic achievement for both boys and girls.
- Harsh parenting also has a detrimental effect on students’ effortful control, making them less engaged in classroom activities and in turn leading to poorer academic achievement, regardless of gender.
- For boys, the negative indirect effect of harsh parenting on academic achievement was mainly through the adverse impacts of effortful control. For girls, it was mainly through classroom engagement.
The authors concluded that teachers should not only pay attention to proximal factors such as classroom management to improve students’ academic achievement; instead, malleable distal factors such as harsh parenting are also important.
Source: Wang, M., Deng, X., & Du, X. (2018). Harsh parenting and academic achievement in Chinese adolescents: Potential mediating roles of effortful control and classroom engagement. Journal of school psychology, 67, 16-30.