For several years, studies about the role of the parent-child relationship in influencing various aspects of child development remained restricted to parenting practices. However, inconsistency in the findings from these studies led to the expansion of the scope for parent-child relationship to incorporate physical, emotional and cognitive elements. The parent-child relationship is a process that occurs throughout life and involves various aspects of love and responsibilities. Parents are responsible for providing care and support to their children from infancy to maturity. On the other hand, children are responsible for nurturing their elderly parents. The parent-child relationship starts at the early stages of child development during which the development of a child’s behavioral patterns and interaction with the environment commences. Studies indicate that from the time of birth to 3 months, parents identify distinct characteristics of their children that help in supporting the psychological regulation of a child. Parents build the foundation for cooperative interactions from about the age of 4 months by recognizing an infant’s signals such as nodding and facial expressions. This relationship undergoes several changes as both parties enter different stages of life. As a child develops, the parent must adjust accordingly in order to cater for the child’s diverse physical, cognitive and emotional needs. Towards the end of the first year, a child’s psychological attachment becomes more refined due to enhanced emotional availability of parents. The studies done on various aspects of parent-child relationship incorporate extensive experiments on large sample sizes. To analyze the effects of individuation on young children’s behavior, psychologists used toddlers of between 15 to 44 months. Such a sample size considerably increases the accuracy of experiment. Similarly, the Strange Situation experiment uses a sample size that increases the credibility of the results concerning secure and unsecure attachment.
Changes in an infant’s reaction when reunited with his parents illustrated the development of a unique parent-child attachment. Using the Strange Situation experiment, psychologists have established consistency in behavioral differences among children with insecure attachment and those with secure attachment. Experimental results showed that securely attached children exhibit signs of distress when temporarily separated from their parents, and start to show content when reunited with them (Ambert, 1997). On the other hand, insecurely attached children exhibit signs indifference towards their parents when reunited. The emotional independence of a child and ability to navigate in diverse contexts depends on the nature of the parent-child bond. Thus, an insecure parent-child bond hinders the development of confidence and autonomy in a child. As a child interacts with the environment and begins to seek individuation, he relies on parent s’ feedback and support for his objectives.
Rebellious behavior among children develops as cognitive and emotional awareness drives children to seek self-reliance. In their process of experimenting and learning, they often collide with rules and regulations. It is important for parents to recognize that such changes are elements of child development, which require relevant support to ensure that children develop appropriate sense of autonomy. A significant stage of the parent-child relationship is during adolescence as most parents are transiting into mid-life. As children in adolescence seek individuation, they start to conflict with the authority of parents just like in toddlerhood.
The measures that parents adopt to control children’s behavior determines the behavioral choices that children make. Research shows that low-assertion techniques such as suggestions and explanations facilitate the development of compliancy and boosts confidence among children. On the other hand, high-assertion techniques such as threats and whipping encourage children to become defiant. The continuation of an effective parent-child relationship requires parents to change their behavior towards persuasive strategies of controlling their children. Evidence shows that there is a close relationship between the responsiveness of parents and children’s psychological development (Pillemer & McCartney, 1991). Responsive parents exhibits warmness and empathy towards their children. On the other hand, parents with low responsiveness are mostly critical of their children and exhibit little signs of sensitivity to children’s emotions. To realize an effective parent-child relationship, responsive parents should incorporate measures that ensure children adhere to standards. Failure in this regard promotes negative psychological development. As children’s social world expands, their psychosocial and cognitive abilities broaden. However, the parent-child relationship remains a key element in children’s social and psychological development. The child’s influence in the parent-child relationship becomes more refined as children join social groups. Studies indicate a close relationship between harsh parenting and children’s tendency to join antisocial groups as it triggers aggressive behavior. Research on factors that affect parent-child relationship such as divorce indicates that even short-term changes in these factors have profound effects on a child’s psychological development. The parent-child relationship changes when children reach adulthood is more of a reciprocation effort. At this stage, most parents are old and physically weak and require the assistance of their children.
My personal experience and observation directly coincide with the conclusions in social science reports and studies. My observation of the manner in which children change their behavior in absence and presence of their parents concurs with the description of the behaviors of children with secure and unsecure attachment. If I could study the same behavior, I would incorporate aspects of data modeling and statistical analysis to ascertain the truthfulness of the data collected through observations and laboratory experiments such as the Strange Situation experiment. I would also revaluate assumptions in experiments such as the Strange Situation, which ignore children with behaviors that lie between the secure and insecure attachment category.