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Science

Parenting Styles, Childhood Playing Style Preferences, and Adulthood Trauma

Although Baumrind’s classification of  parenting styles has been criticized as ethnocentric and not reflecting of broader cultural values,(authoritarian practices are not associated with negative outcomes in certain contexts/populations) I’m curious to know, within a specific cultural context wherein Baumrind’s classifications could hold true, if parenting styles affect a child’s tendency to gravitate towards certain playing styles. 

Play and peer interaction play an important role in childrens’ social and emotional development.

The four types of play are:

Solitary independent play- kids actively playing by themselves.

Parallel play- a type of play in which children are playing next to one another, but not interacting.

Associative play- play that involves interaction with peers and sharing, but has no overall structure or goal.

And finally, cooperative play, which is play in which there is interaction, as well as a shared goal amongst the children.

For example, I would imagine psychological control and power assertion methods (authoritative for all intents and purposes) of parenting strategies would implant a sense of mistrust for others in the child. This may lead to the child becoming “difficult” and non-cooperative in classroom settings like in pre-school, where the children are meant to interact in the different types of play dynamics. 

I’d hypothesize that solitary and parallel play would be the highest likelihood naturally occurring playing styles for children with authoritative parents who utilize harmful psychological and power control means to discipline and raise their child. A child who doesn’t trust their caregiver surely won’t trust other people (I say people because as children, we always felt we were grown enough to do whatever we wanted, and viewed ourselves as equally as mature as our elders). I think with that in mind, children may not make the association that other children may behave towards them in a similar fashion as their parents, because the dynamic is established where we always feel as though we’re “mature” enough, making adult and child behavior (other people’s behaviors) indistinguishable. Likewise, the associated psychological effects of exposure to these parenting styles may lead the child to feel anxiety towards others because they think the behaviors of others will invoke the same negative feelings and cognitive stress as dealing with their parents invokes. This would hypothetically only hold true if the child is unable to distinguish between adult and peer behavior and perceptions. If that’s not the case, then perhaps under other circumstances, children with authoritative parents may be comfortable engaging in associative or even cooperative play with their peers, and even find solace in the social interaction as a means of establishing healthy relationships.

I’m curious to know how much deeper parenting styles affect the psychological development (social and cognitive) of children, even throughout their lives. It’s apparent that certain parenting styles would lead to attachment issues and traumatic perception of experiences (people are diagnosed with PTSD all the time for childhood trauma associated with caregiver abuse). Perhaps further study into these early associations between children’s preferred style of play and caregiver parenting styles can shed some light on how to deal with adulthood trauma, attachment issues, self-esteem and confidence issues, and anxiety issues.