New evidence suggests that adolescent bullying and victimization may have origins in the home. Many bullies have parents who are hostile, punitive and rejecting. National Science Foundation-funded researchers have identified another type of parenting that contributes to peer difficulties: those who direct derision and contempt at their children. Derisive parents use demeaning or belittling expressions that humiliate and frustrate the child, without any obvious provocation from the child. These parents respond to child engagement with criticism, sarcasm, put-downs and hostility, and rely on emotional and physical coercion to obtain compliance. The study emphasizes the emotional underpinnings of peer difficulties. The researchers followed 1,409 children for three consecutive years from grades 7 to 9 (ages 13-15 years). Findings show that derisive parenting fosters dysregulated anger in adolescent children. Dysregulated anger is indicative of difficulties regulating emotion, which typically result in negative emotions, verbal and physical aggression, and hostility. Increases in dysregulated anger, in turn, place adolescents at greater risk for bullying and victimization, and for becoming bully victims (bullies who also are victimized by other bullies).
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