Dynamics of Parenting and Children's Coping: Bidirectional Effects Between Parent Motivational Support and Children's Academic Coping During Late Childhood and Early Adolescence

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International Journal of Behavioral Development

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The present study examined the interconnections between parental motivational support and children’s academic coping as a bidirectional system, with each social partner shaping changes in the other, using a two-wave sample of 1,020 students in grades three through six, aged 8–13, measured at the beginning and end of one school year in a school district in the northeastern United States. Using a motivational model of academic coping that specified both core ways of coping and a set of interpersonal motivational resources that parents can offer their children, cross-lagged panel path models examined whether initial levels of parent support (a combination of involvement, structure, and autonomy support) predicted changes in both children’s total coping profile and their individual adaptive and maladaptive ways of coping, while simultaneously investigating whether children’s coping profile and individual ways predicted changes in parenting. Results for children’s total coping profile and individual adaptive ways supported hypotheses about reciprocal effects, whereas findings for individual maladaptive ways of coping were more differentiated: Parenting predicted changes in coping for all maladaptive ways except rumination, but only concealment, self-pity, and projection predicted changes in parenting. Results did not differ by grade or gender. Potential avenues for future research, limitations, and implications for parenting practice were discussed.


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