Parenting perceptions and behaviors of preschool parents

Shoshana Sperling, Pace University


Perceptions and behaviors of parents of young preschoolers is a subject that has not been extensively researched. Many studies have explored global parenting styles and child developmental outcomes, rather than the way parents conceptualize their roles. Further, most research considers parenting typical children. However, parenting special needs children is challenging. When children with special needs are young, parents are faced with increased challenges along with the common struggle associated with parenting. The Parent Role Development Theory (PRDT) (Mowder, 1991a, 1991b) is a theory proposed to explain how individuals' perceptions of parenting are modified over time. As children progress from childhood to adulthood, their parents' perceptions regarding the parent role change and develop. In this study, questionnaire data was utilized with parents of young children with typical and special needs. The Parent Role Brief Questionnaire (PRBQ) and Parent Behavior Questionnaire (PBQ) were completed by 79 parents of children at four preschools, to sample their perspectives on parenting. Based on the PRDT, the PRBQ and PBQ were created by Mowder to better understand parents' perceptions and parenting activities. Statistical analysis was used to determine how parents of young children with either typical or special needs, conceptualize their roles. The results suggest developmental trends exist regarding how parents rate the importance of parenting characteristics. Parents of special needs children rate parenting behaviors associated with general welfare and protection and sensitivity as most important, whereas parents of typical children deem education the most important characteristic. Parents of special needs children find that responsivity and sensitivity are more important than parents of typical children. Respondents' ratings of their perceptions, on the PRQ, are highly correlated to their parenting activities, as evident in their responses on the PBQ. Assessment, consultation, and interventions with families of children with young children are discussed. Implications for the field of psychology are addressed. By understanding parenting perspectives, psychologists are better able to help parents utilize their parenting role most effectively. Further, effective communication between psychologists and parents can be facilitated with a discussion about useful parent-child assessments and interventions.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Sperling, Shoshana, "Parenting perceptions and behaviors of preschool parents" (2003). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3080972.



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