Perceptions of child rearing and child competence in Mexican American families



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The purpose of this study was to examine 1) the effects of an early intervention program with Mexican American children; 2) the pattern of responses given by Mexican American families to child rearing and competency questionnaires; 3) the relationship between perceptions of child rearing and child competence in Mexican American children; and 4) the relationship between perceptions of competence and efficacy in social situations. Two questionnaires were used to assess child competence: the Child Self Efficacy for Social Interaction Scale (Wheeler & Ladd, 1982) and the Perceived Competence Scale for Children (Harter, 1982). To measure child rearing perceptions, the Bronfenbrenner Parent Behavior Questionnaire (Devereux, Bronfenbrenner & Rodgers, 1969) was given to children to rate their mothers' and fathers' behavior. The child rearing questionnaire also was given to mothers to rate their own behavior. Questionnaires were factor analyzed to create variables appropriate for this Mexican American sample. A significant relationship was found between children's perceptions of their parents' behavior and perceived competence in social situations as measured by the Child Self Efficacy for Peer Interaction Scale. Fewer punishing behaviors and more demands perceived by the children were related to higher reports of self- efficacy in social situations. The relationship between self-efficacy in social situations and perceived competency in school, social situations, and in general was also explored. Perceived social competence as well as a general positive self evaluation were important factors in predicting children's self-efficacy. Significant differences between children who completed the early intervention program and a control group were not found. The impact of attrition and the time lag since intervention are discussed. Further discussion is presented concerning the assessment strategy, the integration of this study with previous research, and ideas for future research.



Child rearing, Mexican American families