Children's insights into family discipline
Dobbs, Terry Anne
This qualitative research project explored the views of 80 children, aged between 5 and 14 years from 5 locations in New Zealand about the parental use of family discipline, and examined whether age and gender influenced their views. Focus group discussions were used to elicit the children's views. This research project is placed within the sociology of childhood paradigm where children are viewed as social actors in their own right. Significantly, the study demonstrated that all the children, irrespective of age or gender, had considerable understanding and insight into their own and other people's behaviour and feelings when family discipline occurred. Children's reports indicated that the parental disciplinary message is often not understood, is delivered in an inconsistent manner and without implicit instructions to children. Children reported that disciplinary messages would be better understood and internalised, by them, if parents used a more inductive style of parenting. Age and gender differences emerged when children discussed the use of physical punishment as a means of family discipline. Children's reports on physical punishment were at odds with published adult assumptions on the effects of its use. The children reported greater severity and frequency of the use of physical punishment than that of adult reports on its use. Children's support for the use of physical punishment increased as their age increased. The older boys were more likely to support parental use of physical punishment. The children's reports showed that fathers' disciplinary practices had consequences in the disciplining of children. Children began to rationalise parental use of physical punishment in terms of children's status in society and the perceived inevitability of physical punishment in their lives. The older children's views began to mirror those of commonly held adult views on the justification for its use. However, children who were trying to link their own views on physical punishment to those of their parents experienced high levels of confusion, leading to diminished internalisation of disciplinary messages.
Advisor: Smith, Anne; Taylor, Nicola
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Children's Issues Centre
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis
v, 155 leaves :ill. (some col.), maps ; 30 cm. Bibliography: leaves 126-127. University of Otago department: Children's Issues Centre. "January, 2005".
- Thesis - Masters