The Scientific Importance of Believing in Yourself

I think nobody knows about perceived parental incompetency as much as the parent of a toddler. There are days when you just want to give up and let the cat raise them, times when you wonder if all this positive parenting is worth the effort and times where you just look at them mid-tantrum and don't know what the hell to do. Some days I feel that like that twenty times before breakfast.

MissC with her new mother
Science backs me up on this. To quote an article  'parental self-efficacy is particularly under pressure during the turbulent period of toddlerhood' (Van rijen et al 2013).
Belief in yourself as a parent or parental self-efficacy as the articles like to call it is incredibly important. It allows you to increase your skill as a parent and gives you the strength to use more effective parenting techniques so creating better outcomes for your child.

Researchers have found that parents with high parental self-efficacy:
-  Are more likely to engage in promotive parenting strategies (Ardelt & Eccles 2001)
- Are less likely to use permissive parenting (Gross, Sambrook & Fogg 1999, Sanders & Wooley 2005)
- Are less likely to be inconsistent in their parenting (Sanders & Wooley 2005)
- Are less likely to give up when faced with challenges in their parenting roles (Ardelt & Eccles 2001)
- Display more parental warmth (Zimmer-Gembeck & Thomas 2010, Izzo et al 2000)
- Are less likely to be hostile towards their children (Zimmer-Gembeck & Thomas 2010)
- Are more accepting of their children (Dumka et al 1996)
- Have better behavioral control and set more limits Izzo et al 2000, Macphee, Fritz & MillerHeyl 1996, Meunier, Roskan & Browne 2011)
- Are less likely to use harsh and overreactive punishments (Macphee, Fritz & MillerHeyl 1996, Gross, Sambrook & Fogg 1999, Sanders & Wooley 2005)

That is believing you are a good parent makes you able to become a better parent.

Parental self-efficacy is found to be even more important if you have a child that makes you doubt yourself. Whether that is because of a development disorder, behavioral problems or just a difficult temperament research has found that a parent with high self-efficacy is able to act as a buffer to decrease the risk of poor outcomes for these children. This is likely due to a high self efficacy giving a parent strength to use good parenting techniques in spite of difficult circumstances.

Parental self efficacy is defined as the beliefs you have about your abiliity to effectively manage the tasks of parenthood and positively influence your children's behaviors and development (Coleman & Karraker 2003)
One of the reasons this is so important is because your beliefs about yourself can be changed. Lots of other things that put your child at risk can not. You can't change your child's temperament and you often can't do a lot to improve the circumstances in which you live. What you can change is your beliefs about yourself, your ability to effectively manage the tasks of parenthood and positively influence your children's behaviors and development (Coleman & Karraker 2003).

Tips for increasing your parental self-efficacy

  • Believe in yourself and surround yourself with people that believe in you.
  • Don't let a bad day or a difficult stage begin a destructive cycle. If you start to lose confidence in yourself as a parent and let this diminish your parenting skills your child's behavior may then worse causing you to lose more confidence in yourself causing you to rely on poor parenting techniques causing your child's behavior to again worsen.

  • For example, I still think I'm a good parent in spite of evidence like this

    • If you are starting to lose faith in yourself remember that parenting is like any other skill. It requires knowledge and practice. Look around for different tools that you can use.
    • If you really doubt yourself as a parent look at parenting courses. Parenting courses such as triple P have been shown to increase parental self-efficacy (Sanders et al 2000).

    Ardelt M, Eccles J (2001) Effects of mothers’ parental efficacy beliefs and promotive parenting strategies on inner-city youth. J Fam Issues 22:944–972
    Dumka L, Stoerzinger H, Jackson K, Roosa M (1996) Examination of the cross-cultural and cross-language equivalence of the parenting self-agency measure. Fam Relat 45:216–222
    Gross D, Sambrook A, Fogg L (1999) Behavior problems among young children in low-income urban day care centers. Res Nurs Health 22:15–25
    Izzo C, Weiss L, Shanahan T, Rodriguez-Brown F (2000) Parental self-efficacy and social support as predictors of parenting practices and children’s socioemotional adjustment in Mexican immigrant families. J Prev Interv Community 20:197–213
    MacPhee D, Fritz J, MillerHeyl J (1996) Ethnic variations in personal social networks and parenting. Child Dev 67:3278–3295
    Meunier JC, Roskam I, Browne DT (2011) Relations between parenting and child behavior: exploring the child’s personality and parental self-efficacy as third variables. Int J Behav Dev 35:246–259
      Sanders M, Markie-Dadds C, Tully L, Bor W (2000) The Triple P-positive parenting program: a comparison of enhanced, standard, and self-directed behavioral family intervention for parents of children with early onset conduct problems. J Consult Clin Psychol 68:624–640
      Sanders MR, Woolley ML (2005) The relationship between maternal self-efficacy and parenting practices: implications for parent training. Child Care Health Dev 31:65–73
      Van Rijen E, Gasanova N, Boonstra A. & Hujiding J. 2013. Psychometric Qualities of the Short Form of the Self-efficacy for Parenting Tasks Index-Toddler Scale Child Psychiatry & Human Development
     Zimmer-Gembeck MJ, Thomas R (2010) Parents, parenting and toddler adaptation: evidence from a national longitudinal study of Australian children. Infant Behav Dev 33:518–529 


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